virtual meeting was a fitting way for Denair Unified School
trustees to formally adopt a school reopening plan Thursday night in which
students and teachers will begin classes next month under a distance learning
format because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
five school board trustees have met in person – albeit with plenty of social
distancing in place – until Thursday night, when they called a special meeting
held via Zoom video conferencing. The primary item on the agenda was to hear
about, then discuss and pass a plan to resume classes Aug. 12 using distance
Terry Metzger explained that Denair Unified – like all other public and private
schools in Stanislaus County – had no choice when it came to beginning school
under a distance learning format. The county is on the state’s “watch list”
because of rising COVID-19 cases locally. Until the county is off the list for
14 days in a row, in-person classes are not an option, Metzger said.
It was the
same message Metzger delivered to more than 100 parents earlier this week in
back-to-back video meetings held in English and Spanish. Parents who would like
to listen to either information meeting can go to the district’s
website and click
on the link to “Community Information Session Recordings.” The
website also includes answers in English
to Frequently Asked Questions.
night, Metzger shared some sobering statistics about Stanislaus County. Nearly
7,000 residents have tested positive. There have been 77
deaths and 266 people are hospitalized, 55 of them in intensive care.
All of which underscores why distance learning will be in place
until students and staff can safely return.
Prock Jr. – whose wife is a teacher at Denair Elementary Charter Academy and
whose daughter is a senior at Denair High School – encouraged the district to
return to in-person instruction “as soon as legally allowed.”
Denair. This is what we do,” Prock said.
Metzger assured him that she shares that feeling, but the district
must follow the recommendations from state and county health officials.
“Nobody wants students back on campus more than us, but we’ve got
to do it in a thoughtful, responsible way,” she said.
Carmen Wilson worried about the impact on long-term distance learning not just
on students, but also their parents – many of whom have jobs that make it
difficult to be a home with their children during the day.
“From an economic perspective, parents rely on instruction so they
can go to work. Not just as a babysitter, but so they can work,” Wilson said.
As she did in her virtual meeting with parents, Metzger went over
some key differences between the distance learning that occurred for two months
in the spring when the pandemic closed schools and what will happen beginning
next. “That was crisis learning,” she said. “Now, we’ve had time to formulate a
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