The Tracy Unified School District board of education cleared the way for the district to apply for waivers that could get students back on campus even as the state’s COVID-19 quarantine restrictions keep many businesses and public gathering places closed.
On a 6-0-1 vote, with trustee Simran Kaur absent, the board approved a reopening plan for the district’s students. That includes applying to San Joaquin County Public Health Services for a waiver, which would allow students in grades K-6 back on campus even as the county remains under the most restrictive “widespread” tier of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s “Blueprint for a Safe Economy.”
District Superintendent Brian Stephens said that the waiver, which could take a couple weeks for the county to review, doesn’t mean the district will reopen schools right away. In addition to the waiver, each school would need its own plan for bringing students and teachers back on campus safely.
“At this point I can share openly that the district does not have a date to reopen,” Stephens told the board. “We’re simply going through the waiver process so we have the maximum amount of flexibility available to the district moving forward.”
He added that the waiver would apply to K-6 students, and also acknowledged that within the next week or two San Joaquin County could move from the purple “widespread” tier in Newsom’s “Blueprint” to the less restrictive red “substantial” tier.
“If our county becomes classified as red then all grades, K-12, will be able to reopen,” Stephens told the board.
“We would probably open with the hybrid model, as that would be the safest way to do it.”
The district’s plan for reopening, which the school board approved along with the application for the waiver, outlines sanitation, social distancing and other measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus. It also describes guidelines on how schools should react if a student or teacher is found to be infected with COVID-19.
The hybrid model that Stephens mentioned would have students taking classes on campus two days a week and doing remote lessons three days a week. Each school would have its student population divided, so that only half of the school’s total enrollment would be on campus at one time.
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