The start of the new Manteca Unified school year on Aug. 6 won’t start with students catching up with classmates being interrupted by a bell to report to class.
Instead they will be logging on at home using school issued devices from kitchen and dining room tables or bedroom desks thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic emergency now in its 137th day in California.
In the coming days there will be no freshmen orientations with ice breaking exercises and upper classmen giving them guided tours of campuses.
Instead, students will be driven to their assigned school and stay in their vehicle until they are summoned on an individual basis to collect class schedule information, have school photos taken for student IDs and yearbooks, turn in devices if they need troubleshooting and be issued new ones, collect textbooks, and take care of other business while wearing masks and social distancing.
The district’s high schools start four days of prepping students for the upcoming school year starting Friday and continuing on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Each school is using different protocols such as what class level they are starting with while going in alphabetical order. The process will be more drawn out than usual as students go through the stations one by one with the only “line” being those waiting inside vehicles in parking lots waiting for their turn.
Similar prep events will take place Monday through Wednesday at the various elementary schools.
Parents will not be allowed to accompany students except at lower levels such as kindergarten.
“We’re super excited to have kids back even if it is virtual for now,” Manteca Unified Community Outreach coordinator Victoria Brunn said of teachers and support staff. “Everyone is here to serve children.”
The distance learning that students will start in seven days that are not enrolled in the new 100 percent online academy is designed to allow transition seamlessly into a hybrid learning model with an average teacher having 17 students in a classroom while the other 17 learn remotely. That will happen when COVID-19 conditions allow it. The third phase, should that happened, would bring all students back onto campus — except those in the separate online academy — with modifications in place for COVID-19 safety.
District Superintendent Clark Burke has noted the transition to classroom learning will be made when it is deemed safe to do so by county health officials monitoring COVID-19. At the same time if after the district has moved into blended learning or into a more traditional full-time on-campus situation and COVID-19 conditions regress, students can be moved back into a blended or remote learning situation without disrupting where they are in studies designed to teach the adopted curriculum
Students will start school at the same time whether the phase is remote learning, blended learning, or modified fulltime learning.
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