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Initial returnees to classrooms are special needs students
covid 19 graphic

There's not an exact time frame when students can expect to return to the classroom amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

As part of the Manteca Unified comprehensive phased plan for "Return to School," Victoria Brunn, who is the district's Director of Community Outreach / Public Information Officer, made it clear Wednesday during the LIVE Microsoft Teams session with parents that "we're still in Phase 1.”

Brunn added: "This was an adaptation of Phase 1."

The new guidelines on cohorts attached to Phase 1 —the current 100 percent Off-Campus Learning or rather Distance Learning — was recently released by the California Department of Public Health, which authorizes small-group, in-person services in controlled, supervised and indoor environments.

"The intent is not for in-person instruction for all students, but to establish parameters for providing specialized and targeted students with needs," said Brunn, who was joined by Director of Special Education Jody Burriss and Senior Director of Elementary Education Jenni Tyson on the online panel.

The CDPH defines 'cohort' as a stable group of no more than 14 students and no more than two supervising adults -- the configuration of a cohort can vary such as eight adults and eight students as long as the total individual numbers do not exceed 16).

The supervising adult in the cohort along with the group must maintain social distancing and other safety protocols. Examples of this can be found in guidelines for childcare staff, certified or classified school staff, volunteers, or participating parents or caregivers.

In MUSD, the Specialized and Targeted Support Service under the CDPH guidelines, are students with disabilities, English learners, students at higher risk of further learning loss or those currently not participating in distance learning, or those who are at-risk, in foster care or homeless.

As for the number of cohorts on a single school site, the panel indicated that will depend on the school's enrollment size and available capacity. "In general, that number should not exceed 25 percent of the school's enrollment size or building capacity," Brunn said.

An estimated 200 were tuned in to the online session. Another online session (click on to  is scheduled for 8 a.m. today.

input from the two sessions and the virtual Cohort Community Input bulletin board will be shared at next week's school board meet for consideration.

Trustees will look to approve the Phase 1 adaptation.