How the upcoming school year will unfold with the COVID-19 pandemic in play may be decided Tuesday when the Manteca Unified School District board meets.
There are four options for the school year as well as a proposal to form a Manteca Unified online academy.
The options are:
*full time on-site school year without implementation of any recommended health guidelines with parents required to sign a liability waiver.
*full-time, on-site school year with all “reasonably accommodated” wellness practices and safeguards such as face masks and hand sanitizer with full class sizes that will not allow for social distancing.
*staggered morning and afternoon sessions that are blended learning models maintaining small class sizes with social distancing following reasonable Centers for Disease Control, California Department of Public Health, and San Joaquin County Public Health Services guidelines with optional opportunities for childcare and learning support. The model is not the same as the spring “crisis” distance learning response. When students are not on site, they will be engaged in project-based learning or unit work supporting in-class instruction.
*100 percent learning for all students that will not be the same as the “crisis” distance learning response.
The board agenda did not delineate exactly what format the staggered sessions approach would take involving the length of each session or even if there a student would be physically in school every day. Other districts, as an example, have students going to school two days a week to split class sizes in half (with the other half doing remote learning) with Wednesdays reserved for 100 percent off-site learning for all students; half the students physically going to school one week and then the other half going the following and then repeating the same process while the weeks students aren’t in class spent distant learning; and splitting the student body in two every day with anywhere from two hour to four hour sessions.
If the board opts to go with that option it isn’t clear whether the exact format a hybrid learning model would take in terms of hours and the general framework would be brought back to the board or if the administration would be charged with making the final call on how such an approach would be implemented.
Based on the district’s efforts so far, it does appear that what is off the table is monkeying with the school year start date of Aug. 6 and ending the school year in late May of 2021. Earlier in the process there had been talk about not conducting school during peak periods of COVID-19 activity.
The proposed application to the state Department of Education to allow Manteca Unified to operate an online academy is a separate proposal. It would give parents and students an option if they do not favor what the board ultimately goes with. And even if the school district eventually returned to the traditional school format there would still be a local virtual learning option for kindergarten through 12th graders.
The academy would give parents and students the freedom to customize their education as well as the flexibility to schedule school whenever they want at times that fit their schedule and at a pace that is best for their child.
Live sessions and opportunities for support would be available by appointment.
Essentially students could learn anytime and anywhere as long as they have a computer and Internet connection. Students would be provided a computer device equipped with all the necessary applications upon enrollment.
The unusual early afternoon session starts at 1 p.m. at the district office in accordance with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order dealing with the pandemic that allows public jurisdictions to take place without live public access.
Public comments submitted by 10 a.m. on Tuesday, June 16, that are emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org and are no more than 250 words will be read into the minutes of the meeting. The public will have access to the board audio of the open session within 24 hours of the meeting.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email dwyatt@mantecabulletin