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Ripon pushing to allow K-5 students back into classrooms
social class
An example of social distancing in a South Carolina classroom.

Trustees of the Ripon Unified School District will look to go that extra yard to get students back in the classroom.

Just a week ago, RUSD announced that the 2020-2021 school year, which kicks off on Aug. 12, will open with distance learning through Sept. 4, based on the joint recommendation of San Joaquin County Office of Education Superintendent of Schools James Mousalimas as supported by SJC Public Health Officer Dr. Maggie Park.

The reason for that was the recent rise of confirmed cases of COVID-19 cases and the increased county-wide hospitalizations.

The local school board on Monday expressed interest in the county data compared to that of Ripon, specifically, RUSD, with hopes of getting some students back in the classroom.

"In looking at Gov. (Gavin) Newsom's mandate, it said that local health officials can offer a waiver request based on local data from public health," Trustee Chad Husky noted.

The waiver request applies to students in kindergarten through fifth grade, according to RUSD officials.

"We want to give our parents an option," said Husky. "This would be a step in the right direction."

Superintendent Ziggy Robeson, upon direction of the board. will address the question of RUSD data vs. the county later this week with Dr. Park during the online meeting with area superintendents.

"We need to keep asking Dr. Park that question every single time," Trustee Vince Hobbs said.

RUSD recently offered two main models of instruction to families – the traditional five-day in-school classroom with additional health and safety measures, and the off-campus distance learning.

A blended model was recently mentioned as yet another option.

According to SJCOE and health officials, third-grade students on up will be required to wear facemasks.

RUSD has already purchased washable cloth masks for each student and staff member. 

Robeson said the ultimate goal is returning students back to the classrooms with safety being the main priority.