With both Yuba and Sutter counties moving into the less restrictive red tier, school districts are expected to soon be able to reopen with in-person instruction for all grades.
According to a press release from Yuba County, middle and high schools in the county can reopen as soon as Oct. 21 and schools in Sutter County could have in-person instruction as soon as Oct. 28.
Individual school districts decide whether or not to reopen for in-person instruction.
Yuba-Sutter Health Officer Dr. Phuong Luu said there are a number of factors to consider in the reopening process.
Each district must have a plan in place following the California Department of Public Health guidance on reopening – which addresses things like social distancing, facial coverings, disinfection, testing and contact tracing, staying within student pods and more.
Here’s a look at what some local school districts are planning:
Yuba City Unified School District
Doreen Osumi, superintendent of YCUSD, said they are working on a phased-in approach.
Osumi said the plan is to reopen for preschool through first grade on Nov. 2, the following week second- through third-grade students would begin in-person instruction and the next week fourth and fifth graders would return to the classroom.
“We want to make sure we have a process and that we are able to make sure we’re successful,” Osumi said.
Currently, Osumi is recommending to the school board that they delay the start of middle and high school until after winter break – which, she said, could also alleviate some confusion.
She said the elementary school students will be starting school on an a.m./p.m. schedule – where one group of students would attend school in the morning and the other in the afternoon.
Osumi said when students are home during the school day, they would be working independently.
However, she said families have the option to continue utilizing distance learning if they aren’t ready to send their students back to the classroom.
She said they will be following safety protocols recommended by the CDPH – including facial coverings, social distancing, hand washing, sanitizing and more.
There will also be desk shields around each desk in the district.
They will also be asking parents to do a health check at home prior to students going to school and they are installing heat sensing devices that will sense if someone entering campus has elevated body heat – if they do, they would be pulled aside for an individual temperature check, Osumi said.
“Our goal is to make sure our students and staff are safe but we do appreciate people’s patience,” she said.
Marysville Joint Unified School District
Gary Cena, superintendent of MJUSD, said that during Tuesday’s board meeting, a discussion took place regarding reopening schools for in-person instruction.
He said it was an information/discussion agenda item but the plan is to reopen for younger-grade classes (preschool through first grade) for a blended learning model beginning on Nov. 10 and progressively add grade levels in succeeding weeks.
The plan will be brought to the board on Oct. 27 and at that time it’s anticipated that the board will be able to formally approve the plan.
“Starting schoolwide in-person instruction on Tuesday, Nov. 10, gives our district a real target on focusing our health and safety and instructional preparations for successful launching of blended learning and sequential advancement,” Cena said in an email.
He said they’re looking at models where teachers would teach the students they’re currently working with and keep the same schedule.
“We want to create a seamless transition,” Cena said.
He said Mondays are days when teachers have social/emotional check-ins with students, and teachers create videos and lessons for the week for both synchronous and asynchronous learning – Oct. 19 is a professional development day for teachers.
“We want to provide as much support to teachers as we can because this is a challenging and new experience and they’re working so hard to provide the best quality service for students,” Cena said.
Once in-person instruction begins, the plan is to have students in two cohorts – one would be in the classroom on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and the other would be in class Thursdays and Fridays.
He said on days when students aren’t in the classroom, they would utilize distance learning.
The district is following the CDPH guidelines, Cena said, including social distancing and facial coverings.
He said there will also be health checks and more.
“We share collective goals, which are to slow the spread of COVID-19, ensure the health and safety of students and staff, maintain relationships and facilitate student learning,” Cena said. “... It’s all worth it so students can get as much in-person instruction as can be provided safely.”
Wheatland Union High School District
Nicole Newman, superintendent of WUHSD, said they are planning to reopen for in-person instruction on Oct. 26 utilizing an A/B day schedule – the campus will be cleaned daily, however, Wednesdays will be deep cleaning days.
“It’s not ideal – we want all kids back and the direction from the board is we give this hybrid model (a try) with the hopes we can start back full time in January,” Newman said.
She said when students aren’t in the classroom, they would be utilizing distance learning – families have the option to have their students in the independent study program if they aren’t ready to send their child back to the classroom.
Newman said they will be following health and safety protocols such as everyone will be required to wear a mask, they’ll be conducting health checks and classes are reduced in size by 50 percent.