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Ripon Christian Schools favoring classroom learning
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Eric Segaar was hoping for a return to the classroom.

The Ripon Christian Schools superintendent circled Aug. 19 for that first day back, anticipating some 700 students on campus.

“Our plan for reopening is to have a traditional start day with all of our students in classrooms, five days a week. We will have social distancing protocols in place where practical and feasible and an increase in cleaning and sanitization,” Segaar said Monday during the day.

He mentioned that, knowing the possibility that plans were subject to change.

By the evening, due to the rise in confirmed cases of COVID-19 not to mention the increased hospitalization in San Joaquin County, James Mousalimas, who is the SJC Office of Education Superintendent of Schools, and SJC Public Health Officer Dr. Maggie Park issued a joint statement by “strongly recommending” that local schools begin the new school year by providing only distance learning instruction.

In Stanislaus County, students were instructed not to return to campuses during the first two weeks of August.  Dr. Julie Vaishampayan, Stanislaus County public health officer, said the reason for that was because of the 2,000-plus residents having tested positive for the coronavirus in recent weeks.

Ripon Unified recently approved two educational options, with the first day of instruction on Aug. 12.

One choice is the off-campus distance learning for those families not comfortable with the regular classroom environment. The other offering is the traditional five-day in-school sessions only with added health and safety measures.

"The plan is subject to change depending on the state and county," said Trustee Kit Oase at the special school board meeting held earlier this month.

At RC, Segaar was impressed with the ability that students, parents and staff took in quickly transitioning to a distance learning model during the final months of the previous school year.

"We were able to take input from both staff and families to modify expectations during the spring to meet students' needs," he said.

Segaar added: "While it was a success, in my opinion, it still paled in comparison to direct instruction that takes place in person and in the classroom each and every day."