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Kindergartners learn to social distance
Komure Elementary School teacher Michelle Ruvulcaba Basile has her kindergarteners further practice social distancing by incorporating “Frankenstein arms.”

Michelle Ruvulcaba Basile is somewhat familiar with her kindergarten students at George Komure Elementary School.

Since the start of the school year, she’s been conversing with youngsters online for distance learning. During the past few days, however, students have made their way to the Manteca Unified school site in Weston Ranch for the upcoming in-person learning orientation.

Monday is the official return day to campus for transition kindergarten – or TK – through third- grade students throughout the district.

“Even though we know each other, we don’t know each other,” said Ruvulcaba Basile upon finally seeing youngsters face to face for the first time this week.

She even had a ‘Welcome to Your Class’ message posted on her classroom board.

According to Komure Principal Jeff Podesto, MUSD TK-3 students will begin the back-to-campus transition, with attendance limited to 12 students per class on an AM – or mornings – and PM shifts while properly spaced out throughout the room.

“We’re excited to have our students back safely and in person,” he said.

Parents accompanied their student the previous day for the first-day orientation, with cohorts split per session to six students and six adults. “(Parents) were wonderful about working with our staff to make this a smooth and safe transition,” Podesto added.

COVID-19 protocols are in place, from temperature-taking to hand-washing and sanitizing coupled with social distancing. Face masks for younger students are encouraged, but most are already taking safety precautions.

Podesto — who is in his seventh year as the school’s top administrator — pointed out several new additions throughout the campus including the stainless steel sinks outside the classroom wings and Plexiglas dividers in some of the classrooms.

Social-distancing markers can be found throughout campus. Teachers such as Ruvulcaba Basile took that practice even further by having her kindergarteners stretch out and do “Frankenstein arms.”

For those not comfortable with in-person learning, Podesto said parents can opt for the Online Academy or Independent Studies as the other learning options for students.

Safety protocols aren’t confined to the classroom.

Students will be monitored closely by an assistant or parent volunteer on the playground while limited to their class during recess. K-3 teacher Monique Fallon calls it structured play.

“They’ll be engaged in individual activities,” she said, referring to youngsters playing games using a Hula Hoop, for example.

As for fourth through eighth graders, MUSD will transition the older students to their respective elementary sites on Nov. 16.

High school juniors and seniors are also returning to campus Monday followed on Nov. 16 by freshmen and sophomores.