STOCKTON, Calif. (KTXL) — Manteca Unified School District made use of a small window in the fall when COVID-19 cases were declining to reopen in-person learning, but things have changed dramatically since then.
Great Valley Elementary in Stockton now has “structured play” instead of the traditional recess. Each student gets their own equipment and keeps their distance from classmates.
It’s part of a state-approved plan, including smaller class sizes, distancing markers, partitions and even air filtration systems.
Manteca Unified has been implementing this plan since November. However, the spread of COVID-19 has changed dramatically since students in the district started this partial on-campus learning approach.
For weeks, ICUs in the San Joaquin Valley region have been at capacity. State guidelines don’t require already open schools to shut down, but San Joaquin County’s current infection rate is more than twice the state threshold for new school reopenings.
The district previously returned to online learning for a week, but Principal Jacalyn Davis said she is comfortable returning to in-person instruction.
“Our students, our district has put in tremendous safety measures for our students when they return and step foot on campus, as well as our staff. They’re very safe in their environment here in their classrooms, and I’m excited to have them back on campus and learning in-person,” Davis told FOX40.
Dr. Clark Burke, the Manteca Unified School District superintendent, said maintaining in-person learning is about taking care of all of a child’s needs.
“Not only the health concerns — the social-emotional concerns, the academics, the future of them, the nutritional. There are a large number of kids who are also still being fed here, and we provide a safe, universal access point that helps to bridge some of our equity gaps and our student needs,” Burke said.
The Manteca Unified School District said they allow full online learning for families not comfortable with in-person learning. They also have a process for evaluating the alternatives for staff and faculty who are not comfortable returning to campus.