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24,000 MUSD students start school year
first day
Stella Brockman Elementary School Principal Candace Espinola points students in the right direction Wednesday morning.

For the first time in two years, Randi Fowzer enjoyed a first day of school.

The principal at Lincoln Elementary School welcomed 605 students Wednesday for in-person learning only with a few changes given the COVID-19 surge and the delta variance.

“We’re following all of the CDC guidelines,” said Fowzer, who is beginning her fourth year as the top administrator at Lincoln. “Everyone has to complete a daily health screening before coming on campus.

“Everyone has to wear a mask while indoor – we’re continuing to encourage everyone to do thorough handwashing and drink bottled water rather than from the drinking fountain.”

With safety as the main concern, Manteca Unified invested nearly $3 million for hospital-grade air scrubbers to 1,400 classrooms throughout the district.

On top of that, classrooms and offices are being cleaned and disinfected once a day.

In order to prepare for that first day, Lincoln conducted Back to School Nights for parents and students on Monday and Tuesday.

“It was to get them familiar with school – I hope (Back to School Night) was helpful,” said Fowzer, who also introduced her new and returning teachers.

She was thrilled to see students getting dropped off come the morning of that first day. It was a far cry from the drive-thru sessions – a pair of eighth-grade promotion events and one distance-learning return to campus – of the past 16 months.

“It was really good to see them walking on campus once again and through the gates. We had staff there to provide directions,” Fowzer said.

She added: “It was a great day.”

Altogether, upwards of 24,000 students are expected to have resumed their education via Manteca Unified. That includes 530 enrolled in the 100 percent online academy and another 500 pursing independent studies.

Most of those on independent study are doing so because of household concerns with COVID and respective families not being 100 percent comfortable with the myriad of precautions Manteca Unified has taken.

The rest of the students are attending in-person learning at the district’s nearly three dozen school campuses.