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Lincoln School connects with students during pandemic with opening day drive-by parade
neil hafley777
Neil Hafley School’s second-grade teacher Lisa Berry posted a photo of herself sans facemask at the first day meet-and-greet.

Lincoln Elementary School Principal Randi Fowzer didn't expect to start the new school year off much like that of the previous one.

But on Thursday, she and her Vice Principal Melissa Herrera along with the school mascot stood in the school parking lot, greeting students and their parents during a drive-thru "wave hello to your teacher parade."

A few months earlier, they participated in the first-ever drive-thru eighth-grade promotion exercises.

"I didn't think we would be doing this again," Fowzer said during the morning first-day event. "But as you can see, the kids are happy to be here and see their teachers."

She credited the Leadership Team for the spirited gathering following the distance learning session.

Due to the recent rise in COVID-19 cases, Manteca Unified opted for Phase I of the 2020-21 Teaching and Learning Models for Return to School. This is where students learn from home, with teachers and students connecting virtually via combination of live instruction, assignments and recorded lessons.

One of the big differences from this one compared to the previous distance learning model is the daily class schedules.

Students clicked on by 8 a.m. to meet with their teachers prior to taking part in the parking lot parade.

"We wanted to have something where we can connect with the kids," said Ericka Murphy, who is on the event-organizing Leadership Team.

She recently became the eighth-grade teacher having previously served as the school's Read 180 instructor. Murphy, who is in her ninth year at Lincoln, has been in education for 23 years. She also had stints at Lodi Unified along with a Stockton charter school.

Murphy and others are making the most of distance learning.

"It's more fine tuned with better structure and interaction with the students," she said. 

Neil Hafley School also had a “meet and greet” drive-thru event but only with the various grade levels.

First- through- fourth- grade students picked up their textbooks and other materials on this day, with grades fifth through eight doing likewise today.

"Our teachers have been through a lot of training over the summer," said Principal Lori Guzman-Alvarez, who is now in her eighth year at the MUSD K-8 campus.

She's thrilled to have her teaching staff back at school.

"It was lonely here in the summer with a skeletal crew," Guzman-Alvarez said.

Information including the online learning bell schedules can be found at