The Jefferson School District is excited to see the smiling faces of students returning to their various schools: Jefferson School, Tom Hawkins Elementary School, Anthony Traina Elementary School and Monticello Elementary School in the fall starting August 9.

JSD’s Superintendent James Bridges said that students will be returning for in-person instruction and will be following the guidelines set forth by the California Department of Public Health.

“Our students are, for the majority, unvaccinated, so all of our students and staff are going to be wearing a mask while indoors,” Bridges said. “They’ll be able to remove their mask when they’re outdoors at recess and PE, but anytime they’re inside of a building they’re going to be wearing a mask following the CDPH guidance.”

JSD’s classroom protocols include: mandatory face coverings while indoors, increased ventilation in each classroom through higher grade filters, cleaning and disinfecting high touch areas and offering screening testing for those who are not fully vaccinated. CDPH does not require physical distancing within a classroom.

Bridges said they updated the air purification systems and will continue to remind students the importance of hand washing etiquette.

At this point, decisions about the district permitting students to participate in sports and attend field trips are still up in the air.

“It’s still too early to make that determination,” he said. “I think we’re gonna have to just wait and look for CDPH guidance.”

Bridges said JSD is prepared to bring all students back to campus following their recent efforts.

“All students were given the opportunity to return to school if they wanted, starting in March, so we’ve had all the safety mitigation practices already in place,” Bridges said.

Bridges emphasized his joy about students returning to in-person instruction.

“We’re all excited to see the kids’ smiling faces and being happy to be back at school, in front of their teachers and being ready to learn,” Bridges said. “Not having a computer screen separating them, but actually having that live interaction between adults and students. Peer interaction is so difficult through Zoom and it’s important to have that sense of community for our students.”

The concerns of COVID-19 and the Delta Variant spreading does not go unnoticed by JSD.

“That’s why we’re keeping such stringent standards in place,” he said. “We want to make sure that we do everything possible to ensure the safety of our students and staff.”

Bridges added that most of the parents coming in and registering are happy to hear that JSD will be returning to full in-person instruction.

JSD’s COVID-19 Prevention Program (CPP) is designed to control exposures to the virus that may occur within the district. CPP includes guidelines for physical distancing, face coverings, cleaning and disinfecting, employee screening, hand sanitizing, COVID-19 training and return-to-work criteria. The CPP is currently in the process of being updated based on CDPH’s guidance which was released earlier this month.

Bridges informed the Board of Education about JSD’s COVID-19 data on June 15 in a BOE meeting. Bridges said JSD during the 2020-21 academic school year had 12 staff members test positive for the virus, 102 students were sent home for COVID-19 symptoms, nine classes returned to distance learning due to COVID-19, 12 students tested positive for COVID-19 and 439 students quarantined for 10 days or more as a precautionary measure.

For more COVID-19 updates visit https://www.jeffersonschooldistrict.com/Page/2948.

• Contact Tracy Press at tpnews@tracypress.com or 209-835-3030.

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