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Students might not return to campus this school year

Manteca Unified School District’s 25,000 students are going back to school on Monday, April 6, even if their home room is literally their home.

But how the rest of the school year may go is up in the air.

In the latest barrage of conflicting statements issued by state, county, and local officials regarding the response to the coronavirus pandemic State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond appeared to muddy the waters when it comes to the Manteca Unified plan to continue distance learning through May 18 and then having students return to campuses for the final two weeks of the school year.

“Due to the current safety concerns and needs for ongoing social distancing, it currently appears that our students will not be able to return to school campuses before the end of the school year,” Thurmond said in a statement released Tuesday night. “In order to allow schools to plan accordingly, and to ensure that learning still occurs until the end of the school year, we are suggesting that schools plan and prepare to have their curriculum carried out through a distance learning model. This is in no way to suggest that school is over for the year, but rather we should put all efforts into strengthening our delivery of education through distance learning.”

San Joaquin County Public Health Officer Dr. Maggie Park on Tuesday also said she expects coronavirus cases to peak in the county in mid-May — almost a month after peaks are expected in neighboring Stanislaus and Sacramento counties.

In addition, San Joaquin County Superintendent of Schools James Mousalimas is scheduled to make a conference call to local school superintendents today to further discuss how the school year could unfold.

 “The announcement from the State Superintendent of Schools reinforces our previous critical decision to move to a distance learning model through May 15, 2020,” Manteca Unified Superintendent Clark Burke said Tuesday evening. “Currently, all hands are on deck to ensure student success. We will evaluate the last two weeks as conditions present themselves.”

Last week the district indicated they were planning to have students return to school sites for two more weeks of instruction.

The week of May 18 was to be for assessing how effective distance learning was and to conduct testing. Finals were planned for the following week.

Whether that is what will happen during the final two weeks of learning for the school year that ends May 29 depends upon how the pandemic unfolds during the coming weeks.

During the final two weeks, summer learning opportunities will be explained. The district had been planning a summer online offering months in advance of the coronavirus pandemic. Since they were forced to close schools due to social distancing the decision was made to make the summer learning program even more robust

 Decisions regarding whether graduations will take place have yet to be made.


 To contact Dennis Wyatt, email