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Guidance Released For Reopening Tuolumne County Schools

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Sonora, CA — Many are wondering what school will look like in the fall across the 12 school districts in Tuolumne County.

This morning Tuolumne County Superintendent of Schools Cathy Parker released a planning guide to address the challenges of COVID-19. It was put together with the public health department.

Each district will use it when putting together their own individual plan. There are various options laid out for how schools might reopen in the fall. The schools will adapt based on their individual situation, spacing available, etc. The guidance notes that districts might choose to maintain a five day a week traditional schedule that promotes healthy hygiene practices and physical distancing where practicable. It adds that parents concerned with sending children back could work with the school district to develop distance or alternative learning plans. Other options districts could implement include a half-day schedule, where some students come in the morning and others in the afternoon. There could also be staggered start and end times, or a schedule in which some students come on Monday and Wednesday, and others on Tuesday and Thursday, in order to limit the numbers on campus at a given time.

Regarding the issue of face coverings, it states, “Cloth face coverings should be used by staff unless CalOSHA standards require respiratory protection. Teachers can use face shields, if available, which enable younger students to see their teachers’ faces and to avoid potential barriers to phonological instruction. Students should be encouraged to use cloth face coverings. Cloth face coverings are most essential in settings where physical distancing cannot easily be maintained.”

Specifically to physical distancing, and what that will look like, it states that students should remain in the same space and in groups as small and consistent as practicable.

• Minimize the movement of students and staff as much as practicable.
• Maximize space between seating and desks. Distance teacher and staff desks at least six feet away from
student desks.
• Serve meals in classrooms or outdoors instead of cafeterias or group dining rooms where practicable.
• Serve individually plated or bagged meals.
• Minimize congregate movement through hallways as much as practicable.
• Consider holding recess in separated areas designated by class.
• Avoid large gatherings such as assemblies and dances.
• Identify an isolation room for students who are not feeling well to minimize contact with others until they
can be transported home or to a healthcare facility.
• Limit nonessential visitors on campus.

The report also addresses transportation, screening, and other commonly asked questions.

You can read the entire 13 page document by clicking here.

In addition, the public health department, the superintendent of schools, and all districts, will participate in a July 9 town hall meeting at 6pm. More information will be forthcoming.

The report also notes that sports and other extra-curricular activities will be addressed at a later time, and guidance will be developed with help from the local public health officer.

Of related note, Superintendent Parker will be the guest on this weekend’s Mother Lode Views to further discuss school planning.

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