Denair Families to Benefit from First-Ever Holiday Hygiene Baskets

There are many generous programs to help families in need during the holiday season, especially with toys for children and food for people of all ages. Things that are equally in demand – but less often given – are bathroom items and other household essentials.

Recognizing that, some employees of the Denair Unified School District and their partners at Sierra Vista Child & Family Services and the Center for Human Services are teaming up this year for the first time to provide hygiene baskets to about 75 Denair families.

The plan is to distribute the baskets on Thursday, Dec. 17 between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. during the daily food pickup at Denair Middle School. That is the last food distribution for Denair families with children before the two-week Christmas break begins.

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Denair’s Music Program Seeks Donations of ‘Gently Used’ Instruments From Community

The Denair Unified School District has a modest music program, but instructor Fred Steiner has ambitious plans to grow it over the next few years.

But to do that, he needs more and better instruments to replace horns and woodwinds and drums that, frankly, are a little past their expiration date and should be retired.

It’s hard to make beautiful music with a clarinet or trumpet that is older than a beginning student’s grandparents, which is why Steiner is inviting members of the Denair community via a video to donate unwanted instruments to the district that may be gathering dust in a closet or attic.

“Several of the instruments we have are 50-60 years old. … A lot of the older instruments have simply been used by many, many students over several decades and they’re reaching a point of requiring a lot of regular, expensive maintenance. I’m hoping we might receive some useful donations that are an upgrade to our current inventory,” explained Steiner, who came to Denair this year after 16 years in the Palos Verdes School District in Southern California.

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Denair Lions Club Installs New Lights at Jack Lytton Stadium

It’s not certain when the next football game will be played at Jack Lytton Stadium but when it happens, the lights will be much, much brighter thanks to a project recently completed by the Denair Lions Club.

“It’s a big difference,” said Mark Hodges, the school district’s director of maintenance and facilities. “I told one of the guys we’re going to have to give all the football players sunglasses. The end zones used to be a little dark, but now the field is lit from end to end.”

More than a dozen Lions Club members spent part of Nov. 13-14 installing the new LED lights, which are far more powerful and energy efficient than the 1,000-watt bulbs they replaced. Each of the six light standards at the stadium have six fixtures. Hodges expects the new lights to last at least 15 years, given the normal usage of the field.

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Denair Maintains Cautious Approach to School Reopening

Unlike some school districts, Denair Unified has been measured and uber cautious in how it has reopened its four campuses in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Small groups of students began returning to class a few weeks ago in what are called “learning pods.”

In most cases, those students are either in special education, are English learners, are enrolled in Denair Elementary Charter Academy’s dual language immersion program or are in danger of failing one or more classes at the Denair High School or Denair Middle School. At Denair Charter Academy, some independent study students have resumed in-person weekly appointments with their teachers.

Though the vast majority of the district’s 1,300 students remain entirely on distance learning, this week 290 students participated in one or more days of in-person instruction. That’s consistent with the district’s conservative approach to reopening, Superintendent Terry Metzger told trustees during a Zoom meeting Thursday night.

While a few more students are starting next week, Metzger said, “We’re not going to expand until after Thanksgiving. We will determine how many students will come back to campus then and we’ll do the same thing after Christmas.”

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Denair Announces Plan to Reopen Campuses Monday

Moving quickly to avoid possible COVID-related state restrictions, the Denair Unified School District decided Thursday night to begin a phased reopening of all school campuses after more than six months of distance learning only.

The unanimously approved change came after a special Board of Trustees meeting at which Superintendent Terry Metzger outlined the district’s comprehensive reopening plan and stressed the urgency of enacting it immediately.

That’s because Stanislaus County is on the verge of being downgraded Tuesday from “red” to “purple” on the state’s color-coded COVID watch list, denoting worsening health conditions in the county because of the pandemic. Schools that reopen while the county is still in the red tier may stay open even if the county reverts to the purple tier, where it was until Oct. 13. But campuses that are not reopen by that time cannot do so until the county has been in the red tier for at least two more weeks.

If Denair doesn’t reopen by Monday and the county slides into purple status, it could be well after the first of the year before students could return to in-person classes. All students have been distance learning since mid-March.

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