WILLOWS, Calif. - An elementary school in one Northern California county is set to be the first public school to welcome students back into the classroom.
School leaders from Murdock Elementary School located on 655 French St. in Willows, applied for a waiver. Per state guidelines elementary schools are allowed to apply for a waiver.
The Murdock Elementary School principal, Shirley Williams, tells Action News Now, roughly 600 students are returning to campus.
"We're excited to have our kids back on campus!" Williams said.
Williams tells Action News Now the waiver allows teachers to reunite with students, but with some modifications.
"We are starting on a hybrid model. We have divided our students into two color groups because our school colors are green and yellow," Williams said.
Roughly 300 students will start school in the morning, once they finish class, another 300 students take up learning in the afternoon.
"One of the requirements is to keep cohorts of students together and with just the same adults.”
That means no recess for the time being.
“We know it’s going to be a challenge for the little ones but we’re about teaching and we’re about supporting our kids and getting them where they need to be.”
And inside the classrooms, students will be six feet apart at all times, and only 12 to 13 students can be inside.
"They won't be mixing." Teachers tell Action News Now they are ready for the big day, whether it's supplying the classroom with sanitizers, plexiglass, or masks.
Action News Now also asked Williams how lunch will operate during the school sessions.
"Our meals will all be in the classroom,” meaning that food will be delivered to students to avoid a gathering at the cafeteria.
Action News Now also asked Emmett Koerperich, the superintendent of Willows Unified School District, if he can ensure to parents that its safe to bring their children to school.
"We’re doing the very best we can following all the state guidelines that’s the one thing that Dr. [Jared] Garrison our public health director here in Glenn county has been impressed with, is the efforts of this school and getting prepared to make it as safe as possible for everyone involved,” Koerperich said.
"Little kids need to be interacting and we need to be teaching them those developmentally appropriate social skills,” Williams said.
For parents who are still uncomfortable bringing their children to school, Williams tells Action News Now they can still learn virtually. At least 50 students, which makes up 10% of the student body have chosen to remain online.
And per state guidelines, temperature checks will be conducted prior to entering the campus and visitors will not be allowed during this time.