3 Denair Basketball Players Will Play in College

Three members of Denair High School’s Southern League champion basketball team will continue to play in college.

The Coyotes finished the season 26-4, including a perfect 12-0 mark in league that earned them their first SL title since 2004. Denair made the playoffs for a third straight year, eventually falling in the first round of the NorCal Division V playoffs.

A large part of that success was due to the combined efforts of seniors Hayden Feldman, Austin Upfold and Jacob Kuharski. They were among the standouts of a talented team that didn’t lean on one player game to game, but used its depth and size to wear down most opponents.

Feldman will go to Merced College, where his versatility to play guard or forward no doubt will be an asset. He averaged 11 points, five rebounds and three assists last season – numbers strong enough to earn him Southern League MVP honors. A transfer two years ago from Turlock High, Feldman finished his varsity career with a 45-15 overall record and a 21-3 mark in league play.

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Denair Trustees OK Distance Learning Plan

A virtual meeting was a fitting way for Denair Unified School District 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.

Denair’s 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 learning.

Superintendent 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 and Spanish to Frequently Asked Questions.

Thursday 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.

Trustee Ray 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.”

“We are 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.

Trustee 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 plan.”

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Denair Unified Leader Answers Parent Questions About School Reopening Plans

More than 100 parents of Denair Unified School District students participated in English and Spanish video meetings with Superintendent Terry Metzger on Tuesday night. The Zoom sessions were a chance for parents to ask questions about what distance learning will look like when classes resume Wed., Aug. 12.

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 and Spanish to Frequently Asked Questions.

Metzger told parents 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 told parents.

Many parents had questions about access to computers for their children. Metzger said the district will issue a Chromebook computer to each child. Additional computers have been ordered. It’s likely there won’t be enough to go around to start the school year, so she asked parents to “partner” with the district if their child already has access to a device at home and allow district Chromebooks to be given first to students without their own computer.

Metzger said it is important that children develop “learning routines.” With that in mind, principals at each campus are working with teachers to develop schedules for each grade level. Students will be expected to be actively learning at least three and four hours a day, depending on the grade level. Most online instruction will take place in the morning, Metzger said. Students would then have time to complete assignments and projects. Teachers are likely to have “office hours” in the afternoon – a time to work individually with students, talk with parents and prepare future lessons.

Grades will be assigned and attendance kept at all grade levels. Metzger said parents will receive a letter from their child’s school within the next week outlining plans on that campus. She encouraged parents to communicate with their child’s teacher and principal about any concerns or questions.

COVID-19 Delays High School Sports Seasons

To no one’s surprise, the organization that governs high school sports in the state announced Monday morning that fall sports will be delayed until late December and early January because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The California Interscholastic Federation’s decision will have a ripple effect on winter and spring sports, which also will be pushed back and now run concurrently in the spring of 2021.

The Sac-Joaquin Section – which features 198 schools (including Denair High School) and more than 250,000 student athletes from Sacramento and Napa to Merced – said it will begin volleyball and cross country Dec. 28. The first football games will be Jan. 8.

Under the new calendar, Section championships for fall sports would be held in March and April, and for winter and spring sports in May and June.

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Denair Unified and All Districts in Stanislaus County Will Start School Year with Distance Learning Only

The Denair Unified School District will begin the 2020-21 school year on Wed., Aug. 12 using distance learning to educate our 1,300 K-12 students. This decision follows the recommendation of Stanislaus County public health officials and consultation with other local school leaders, and is based upon a significant increase recently in COVID-19 health cases in our county.

The timetable for distance learning is indefinite. We will continue to follow the guidance of local health officials during the pandemic. When local health conditions improve, we will evaluate our ability to move to either a hybrid model that combines distance learning with face-to-face classroom instruction or a full-time return to classroom learning.

Here are other important things for students, parents and staff to know:

  • High school and middle school students all will have Chromebook computers checked out to them and will participate in online learning. Elementary students will receive packets prepared by teachers combined with computer lessons.
  • As of July 14, all sports conditioning and any extracurricular activities (cheer, band, sports, drama, etc.) are suspended until further notice.
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