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Tuolumne County Educators Declare Distance Learning To Start School Year

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Sonora, CA – Tuolumne County schools will open the new school year this fall providing distance learning only at all districts, charter and private schools.

Educators were forced to make that call due to the county qualifying for the state’s COVID-19 monitoring list as of the last week of July. To make the list a county must have elevated levels in the areas of disease transmission, increasing hospitalization, and limited hospital capacity specific to each county. Once on the list, a county’s schools are forced to remain closed and only provide distance learning until the county can remain off it for 14 consecutive days.

A criterion that can be hard to accomplish as noted in the joint written release from the Public Health Department and the Superintendent of Schools Office, which predicts, “Based on the trajectory of the pandemic in our county, it is unlikely schools will be able to re-open for in-person instruction before the end of the first grading period.”

Local health and educators disclose they will only reopen schools once the county’s coronavirus health data demonstrate it is safe to do so through reduced transmission levels, the availability of testing and contact tracing for the school community. Once those benchmarks are met, they state, “Each district will make the determination, in consultation with local public health, on when to return to in-class instruction.”

The release also notes that the county will not be eligible for waivers announced by the state just this month allowing for some in-person instruction when social distancing and sanitation requirements are met until off the list. Adding that waiver applications can only be obtained once the county’s “testing capacity is robust enough to respond to confirmed COVID-19 cases and after finalization by the California Department of Public Health.”

The release ends noting that the safe return of students and staff to in-person instruction remains the highest priority, and stating, “As the many district teams collaborate on plans to return to classrooms, our teachers will be providing high quality, rigorous, distance learning to the nearly 6,000 students of Tuolumne County.”