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How School Year Start Up Under COVID-19 State Monitoring Looks

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Sonora, CA – With Tuolumne County heading to the state’s watch list, its head educator says how the school year will initially roll out is still somewhat undecided.

Clarke Broadcasting talked with Schools Superintendent Cathy Parker, who acknowledged that the ability to implement current plans may be removed from the county’s options since the counties that make the list are required to move and remain off it for 14 consecutive days before schools – private and public – can resume in-school, in-person instruction.

While there is still some time ahead of the return to school since most districts startup Aug 18-19, Parker states, “There will come a time to make a decision to move forward on a model [This week], the community can expect to hear from their districts what their model will be moving forward when their district’s school year begins.”

While the districts have all been working towards a model to bring limited numbers of students to campus, the protocol for social distancing, masking, handwashing, and other requirements is challenging and if listed, the rules will become tremendously more so in order to get the County Public Health Officer to issue a waiver that might allow some in-person education for elementary students.

Parker anticipates that by Thursday or Friday, the county school districts will make announcements about how they will initially open.

“Even if we open in distance learning those plans we are making for a hybrid model, for soft return, whatever you want to call it, those will be put into practice,” she explains. “So it is not wasted effort. It is just that at some point we need to be able to turn our attention to one model, so we can start the school year with enough resources for our teachers…instructional aides to be able to teach – whether it is a remote model or something else.”

She continues, “I have always said this, as the community goes so do our schools — so if our community is not getting better in what we are doing, there is going to be a direct effect on our ability to open schools. So our community has to realize the impact on schools directly from their actions.”

Describing Tuolumne County as a very resilient, wonderful community of people who care deeply about each other, she says she is confident residents can really help the county rise above its current situation of elevating COVID-19 cases and make it safe enough for schools to open for in-person instruction, such as by wearing face coverings when out mixing in public.

“That is what I am really hoping for,” Parker confides. She dryly adds, “What it boils down to… if we don’t like our consequences, we can change our actions…that is a lesson we teach starting in kindergarten — if you don’t like the consequence, change the action!”

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