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Chico Unified School District plans for reopening in the fall

The California Department of Education released a 62-page guideline on how school districts should welcome back students, now the Chico Unified School District is trying to figure out how to meet those guidelines.

Posted: Jun 10, 2020 9:57 AM
Updated: Jun 10, 2020 11:11 AM

CHICO, Calif. - The California Department of Education released a 62-page guideline on how school districts should welcome back students, now the Chico Unified School District is trying to figure out how to meet those guidelines.

Schools will look very different this coming fall. Among the recommendations: mandatory face coverings for students and teachers indoor except when eating and drinking.

Staggered arrival times to minimize contact between students, and students can also expect temperature checks and extensive hand washing. 

The Assistant Superintendent, Jay Marchant said, their goal is to make sure parents feel their children are safe at school.

Marchant said staff and administrators are working to create different scenarios to comfort students and parents.

Those scenarios include a virtual learning option, a blended model of some at-home learning, and some on-campus learning or a traditional plan which would put kids back in the classrooms.

RELATED: Chico Unified School District plans for schools reopening

"It kind of comes down to what guidelines that our state and county is going to put on us," said Marchant. "It's going to be very interesting leading up to August. We are just hoping that we have something out again... a survey for our families to say this is the schedules that you can choose which one do you think."

Marchant said they plan to release those schedules in the next few weeks so families can start preparing for the fall.

The district will send parents two more surveys to choose which learning model they prefer for their kids.

Marchant said this is a fluid situation and things could change as the school year approaches.

Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed budget cuts to education that could cause the district to lose $9 million. Marchant said they hope lawmakers vote that down.

From the kindergarten level to a senior in high school, Marchant said they'll be working hard to get students to wear masks and stay six-feet apart.

Marchant said the staff will be preparing to meet these guidelines.

Right now, they're trying to figure out if students will wear masks throughout the six-hour school day. Will it only be when you're within six-feet of someone, during recess, walking in the halls?

Marchant said that school is a home away from home and worries about the emotional toll wearing masks could have on children.

"It'll be a lot of just like the first day of school," he said. "Like, this is how you line up, this is where you put your mask on, this is our 6-foot markers, remember there is a hand sanitizer, or a sink you can wash your hands in. All of this will be repetitive, our student's aren't used to doing this in schools."

"It doesn't really bother me that much I'm just grateful to be able to go back to school," said Jonah Watts, a student at Chico Junior High. "It'll probably just be weird to transition into that. "It's going to be weird to not be able to high five my friends and stuff."

"That would be probably weird because it's really hot when you're wearing it," said Gabe Watts, a student at Blue Oak.

Marchant said he's concerned about communication between teachers and students with masks.

He told Action News Now they're looking at buying mics with a speaker so it's easier for students to hear.

Marchant said a local mask-making company offered to provide masks for the district.

The district ordered over 800 thermometers to check temperatures when kids enter the school.

Marchant said they looked at six-foot distancing in classrooms and found it reduces class sizes to about 10-12 kids per class.

Marchant said they don't have the teachers, the budget, or the extra classrooms to accommodate that. He said staff and administration are meeting to discuss different options.

"If they gave us the freedom in our county to say you can have a traditional model distance learning where the kids are six-feet apart then we have to figure out.... ok if we have 3 or 4 classes on campus for that model and the rest are in classes of 35 what that would look like and staggering schedules," said Marchant.

"The fact that the parents can make the choice of going distant learning or doing both, it'll be key on the principals and administration on how they handle it," said Sarah Gomez a teacher at Chico Junior High and a grandparent to several students at that school.

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