Wearing masks and social distancing — along with the usual COVID-19 sanitizing drills — aren’t the only steps Manteca Unified is taking to try and prevent the spread of the coronavirus on its 32 campuses.
One thing you will see in Manteca Unified classrooms that haven’t been done in many other schools is the use of three-sided see-through desk partitions made of corrugated plastic.
The partitions were distributed to transitional kindergarten through third teachers before students started returning to class on Monday.
Each teacher was given the option to use as many as they wished or none. A number of teachers placed a partition at each desk while others opted for every other desk.
The partitions have hand-holds allowing them to be moved to other locations.
“They are being used when students are working in groups,” noted Jenni Tyson, the Manteca Unified Director of Elementary Education.
Clara Schmiedt, director of secondary education, noted some of the partitions that have been ordered to make available for possible use at the high schools have a somewhat different design given there are a variety of learning environments beyond the traditional classroom.
The district has taken delivery of 5,000 of the petitions at $40 a pop. Another 15,000 have been ordered. The overall cost will come to $800,000.
The partitions were seen as a way to address concerns about the potential spread of COVID-19 and the fact face masks are strongly recommended but not mandatory by the Centers for Disease Control for transitional kindergarten through second grade.
Tyson noted that even at the TK through second grade level almost all students are wearing face masks. It is mandatory for third graders through 12th graders to wear face masks.
District Superintendent Clark Burke emphasized the district made the decision to go with the partitions to add to the menu of precautions to make sure student health is the top priority so critical in-person learning can take place to put a skid to learning loss and to help bring students back up to speed.
“Distance learning is not as effective as in-person (learning),” Burke said.
MSUD has spent $17.1 million
so far on COVID-19 related items
The district as of Nov. 3 has spent $17.1 million on COVID-19 related expenses.
The money is coming from four different state funding sources to help local school districts pay for their COVID-19 precautions.
Manteca Unified has been allocated $24.3 million to address COVID-19 expenses. They have received $19.9 million to date. Between cash on hand and what the state has committed, Manteca Unified has $8 million left to address COVID-19 costs.
The state grants have allowed Manteca Unified to avoid touching their reserves. The reserves will play a critical role in managing the district’s cash flow needs to avoid cuts for the current year due to the state decision to avoid budget cuts due to the pandemic cutting into state tax revenue. The 7.92 percent decrease in funding the state committed to Manteca Unified prior to the pandemic comes to a $28.1 million hit for the district’s adopted $256.4 million general fund budget.
The reserves will be needed to cover cash flow issues in May and June of 2021.
It doesn’t take long to go through $17.1 million.
Roughly $1 million has gone to train teachers so they could effectively instruct distance learning and a surge in independent study students triggered by the pandemic.
To avoid student sharing items in classroom as well as to obtain additional instructional materials required due to mandatory COIVID-19 protocols, some $5.1 million has been spent.
The long laundry list can include providing every student with a pair of scissors when before classroom may have shared a half dozen scissors, purchasing new equipment to adapt classes such as physical education to eliminate shared touch points and purchasing additional computers for teachers that the distance learning model required beyond the devices they were already issued.
In some instance portables were relocated where additional space was needed to gain reasonable social distancing.
Other areas the district is allowed to use the money for is to address learning loss and steps needed to bring students up to speed.
District has bought
1.4 million face masks
The biggest category in terms of how Manteca Unified has spent dollars is more than $5.2 million to pay for public health testing, personal protection equipment, and supplies to sanitize and clean facilities including school buses.
The district has spent over $700,000 on masks alone. There are five categories of face masks including face shields and non-medical KN95 face masks.
The district overall has bought almost 1.4 million face masks. That includes 76,800 one-size fit all cloth face masks that allowed four to go to each adult staff member and two per student.
The biggest mask purchase was 1.2 million three-ply disposal face masks.
The district purchased 1,500 infrared contactless forehead thermometers for $65,000.
Sanitizer including wall units and stations have cost in excess of $150,000. That includes 1,500 gallons of sanitizer refill and 2,000 16.9 ounce bottles of hand sanitizer.
Some $4,800 has been spent to date on disinfecting wipes for surfaces, $8,000 on antimicrobial hand wipes as well as more than $61,000 for 27,800 re-useable water bottles.TK through sixth graders received 20 pounce bottles, seventh and eighth graders 17 ounce bottles, and high schoolers and staff 26 pounce bottles.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org