Murdock Elementary School recently reopened and a school official said they’re happy to have students back in the classroom. 

California schools were closed for in-person instruction in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

However, the California Department of Public Health has recently allowed schools in counties that meet certain criteria to submit waivers for in-person instruction for grades TK-6. 

According to the CDPH, Murdock Elementary was the first public school in Glenn County to have their waiver approved – the first day of in-person learning was on Sept. 22. 

“We’re very happy with the way thing opened up,” said Ron Bazan, assistant principal. “It was pretty daunting, anticipating going into the opening of school during the pandemic and the health rules but our staff, they did an amazing job. Our maintenance, custodial, teachers, they did an excellent job. I want to praise everybody that went into organizing and putting the plan into effect.”

Bazan said parents and students have also done an excellent job and have been supportive. 

Before students enter the campus, they are required to have temperature checks and everyone on campus is required to wear masks – including adults and students. 

Bazan said the day is split up into a morning group (green session) and an afternoon group (yellow session). 

He said in between the groups, there is time for teachers to have lunch, prep and for the custodians to clean. 

“We were real concerned about when kids got here and when they leave – that’s a lot of people coming in and out. But the kids have done a really good job with that,” Bazan said. 

He said they have social distancing in place both for when students arrive and leave – there are markers for where they should stand so they can spread out. 

He said there is also an independent study program for students whose families aren’t comfortable sending their kids back to school yet.

“Teachers have done a real good job making the adjustments,” he said. 

He said one of the challenges, along with making sure health protocols are in place, has been getting students back into the flow of being in the classroom.

“Teachers are creating great lessons to engage the students,” Bazan said. 

He said one of the things that’s been reinforced is personal hygiene – like how to sneeze, washing hands, etc. 

He said when students aren’t in the classroom, asynchronous learning is in place – which could be either online work or assignments that were handed out by the teacher. 

“Distance learning was a challenge for parents and young students, logging in and logging out and technology challenges with so many people being online at once,” Bazan said. 

He said teachers had used the summer to prepare for distance learning – in the spring, they had little time to prepare for the transition.

“I want to commend our teachers who took a lot of training and professional development to administer that online learning,” Bazan said. “... There’s still that challenge for kids that didn’t have access or someone to problem solve their technology issue at home.”

He said the school is working on being as diligent as possible with opening school amid the pandemic. 

“I think things aren’t perfect, never is anything perfect, but we are in good faith doing everything possible to provide a positive learning experience while maintaining the safety of our students and staff,” Bazan said. “We love having them back.”

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