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Band, choir taking place outdoors at Lathrop High
Lathrop High Assistant Principal Martha Dent checks a posting promoting a black and gold spirit competition for returning students.

Pass by Lathrop High in the coming weeks and you may be treated to a musical serenade.

That’s because band and choir classes — when playing or singing takes place — will be conducted outdoors.

It is just one of many COVID-19 social protocols that will become the new norm when juniors and seniors return to campus Monday. The freshmen and sophomores will follow on Nov. 16.

Assistant Principal Martha Dent said Lathrop High is bringing in student leadership and LINK crew members to school them on social distancing rules and protocols unique to Lathrop High.

“That way we will have 70 students on campus that can help guide others starting Monday,” Dent said.

Those student volunteers will be even more critical when freshmen step on campus for the first time Nov. 16 as the pandemic cancelled the in-person school tour.

In additional school administrators are conducting online meetings tonight with junior parents at 6 p.m. and senior parents at 6:30 p.m. to share information about COVID-19 protocols.

The new rules include a number of one-way hallways marked with arrows in the right direction and “do not enter” signs for the wrong direction.

The need for one-way hallways was determined based on the need for space between older students as well as to minimize student interaction.

In an example of how thoroughly vetted all of the protocols are, the administrative team understood the high degree of intermingling that happens between classes. One way hallways are designed to reduce the tendency for students seeing friends going the opposite direction and wanting to cross the paths of other students to greet them.

No one within the Manteca Unified School District will be using lockers including at Lathrop High.

Dent said since textbooks can be left at home that means backpacks will only include school issued devices and any personal items.

Given the wide variety of classes at a high school that includes everything from science lab, vocational arts, JROTC, art, and home economics to standard classrooms where subjects such as English and math are taught in classroom protocols are designed for the subject being taught.

In some cases, items typically used will be hands off for now such as weights in physical education.

Dent said PE teachers — as well as those in other subjects — have been creative in coming up with ideas to conduct classes.

There will be full counseling services but they will be conducted remotely.

All students can have breakfast and lunch for free from three mobile carts spread apart on campus. Seating in the cafeteria will be reduced by 50 percent along with outdoor seating.

Besides two face masks, students will receive a refillable water bottle. All drinking fountains on the campus have been removed and replaced with push button water bottle filling stations that also will have hand washing stations. That is in addition to portable hand sanitizing stations placed throughout the campus.

When instruments are played in band or singing is done in a choir class it will take outside due to Centers for Disease Control protocols that reflect the fact both endeavors extend the distance that respiratory droplets spread.

Dent noted that outdoor areas will be used by teachers in other classes when appropriate to do so.

Students will not enter the office for attendance issues but instead will be serviced through windows.

Campus visitors — just like at all MUSD campuses — will be required to have their temperature taken with a touchless thermometer and fill out a screening form. They will be restricted to a small area of the administration office lobby until such time the person they are on campus to meet is ready to see them.

Plexiglas is used throughout the administrative offices, in classrooms, and other appropriate places.

The attention to detail is reflected in the entrance gates. While they will be open at main arrival and departure times, kick plates have been installed to allow the gates to be opened without touching them with hands at other times.

In classes items that are used by numerous students such as scissors have been increased in numbers so each student can use one specific pair. The scissors, just like other touch points, are sanitized before being used by students in another class session.

Face masks are mandatory for all students, staff, and visitors.

Classes will be divided in half with one group on campus Mondays and Thursdays and the other group on Tuesdays and Fridays. The days they are not on campus students are distance learning. All students will distance learn on Wednesdays.

That means instead of a maximum of 1,400 students being on campus at any given time, the number will be 700.  The actual number will be lower on Monday as roughly 100 students have elected to stay home due to someone being ill in their families.

Dent said students will be able to distance learn until the end of the semester. Once the current semester ends, if they want to continue to distance learn they will need to enroll in the Manteca Unified Online Academy.

The other comprehensive high schools in Manteca Unified — Manteca, East Union, Sierra, and Weston Ranch — have similar rules and protocols that are somewhat different based on specific campus issues.


Mandatory self-screening

The first protocol students will have to follow when on-campus learning resumes Monday happens even before they step out of their home.

They will need to log onto their email on their district issued device for a link they will receive at 7 a.m. to complete an online survey asking questions relating to COVID-19 exposure, signs, and symptoms.

Based on the results, they will receive either a green check or a red stop sign. The green means it is safe for them to go to school. A red stop sign will direct a student to stay home and contact the Manteca Unified School District Health Services between 8 and 11 a.m.

Any one of the following symptoms — fever above 100.4 degrees, sore throat, a new uncontrolled cough that causes difficulty breathing outside of their norm, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain, new onset of a headache especially with a fever, or loose of taste or smell — will prohibit them from being able to go to school.

Those that receive a red stop sign will also receive a link to complete a contact tracing survey designed to help identify people students have been in contact with and the locations visited.

All of that information is aggregated on a dashboard for each school. Teachers get data that allows them to determine if a student in their class should not be there or hasn’t taken the survey.

Dent noted all protocols and even the screening criteria are all subject to change as conditions and advice changes.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email