Manteca students, teachers meet before beginning school year following distance-learning protocols

Local News

MANTECA, Calif. (KTXL) — Thursday was the first day of class for the Manteca Unified School District and just like the beginning of this pandemic, teachers are once again settling into their classrooms in front of their laptops.

First-day-of-class jitters and excitement are all around as teachers, such as Gina Hughes, and her first-grade students meet among a procession of cars at Joshua Cowell Elementary School.

“Nervous. Excited, though. It’s a new challenge,” Hughes responded when asked about her thoughts on the upcoming school year.

That new challenge, Hughes said, is something she’s prepared to take on digitally.

“Even if they’re not in their desks, I get to see them smiling and online, and knowing that I’m still giving them the best education possible,” Hughes said. 

Teachers within the Manteca Unified School District once again returned to their classrooms Thursday, but this time, there will be no kids in their seats.

“Our priorities are still the same … we want students to meet their grade level standards. We want them to feel safe and supported,” Joshua Cowell Elementary School principal Christie Newman explained.

Among the differences are a modified bell schedule, a time for teachers to collaborate throughout the week and a chance for students to break up into small groups online.

“[I’m] excited. I mean, of course we miss real school but at least we’re meeting the teacher and we got to see some friends this morning online,” parent Mercedes Ruiz said. 

Parents say it’s been an adjustment.

“And when it’s their break time I’ll let them go and have their recess,” parent Erlynne Macomber said. “I try to make it seem like they’re at school.” 

Although there are many changes this school year, there are still some things that will remain the same. 

Teachers will still teach, students will still learn and lunches will be provided.

After the parents drove off, Hughes was ready to hop back online — ready to enrich young minds.

“Every day when they shut off, that I’ve done my best, and that they’re learning, that’s what I gotta take away every day,” she said.

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