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Back to distance learning for Stanislaus County schools
Spike in COVID cases halts traditional reopening plans
TUSD reopening plans
While Turlock Unified School District was already making plans to welcome back students in August with social distancing and other precautions, it will now open with a Distance Learning Model following new county health orders (ANGELINA MARTIN/The Journal).

Although local schools had hoped to see students in the classroom come August, Stanislaus County announced on Monday that districts would need to begin the academic year with distance learning as coronavirus cases spike in the area.

In a joint release sent out late Monday afternoon, Stanislaus County Public Health Officer Dr. Julie Vaishampayan and Superintendent of Schools Scott Kuykendall said that three determinations had been made earlier in the day: schools should open in August with Distance Learning Models in place, all conditioning for fall sports is suspended until further notice and all extracurricular activities (like band, sports and theater) are suspended as well.

“We recognize the significant impact school closures have on our entire community, students, families and staff. SCOE and all 25 school districts will continue to work diligently and collaboratively towards a prompt and safe reopening of schools in Stanislaus County when health conditions allow,” the release said.

School district superintendents from throughout the county met with Dr. Vaishampayan on Monday morning, who provided an update on the virus’ recent community spread. Due to its rising number of cases and position on the state’s coronavirus watch list, Stanislaus County was recently forced to roll back some sectors of the economy which had reopened.

“Widespread community transmission has forced us to make the difficult decision to delay the return of our children to school classrooms,” the release continued. “This announcement represents a significant disappointment for the many thousands of teachers, administrators and support staff, who were looking forward to welcoming students back in August.”

In a letter to the Turlock Unified School District community, Superintendent Dana Salles Trevethan said that despite working on several learning models for the 2020-21 school year — including a traditional model which would uphold social distancing protocols — the district began to anticipate that a Distance Learning Model would become the likely choice as the summer wore on and infection rates rose.

TUSD will pivot to a Distance Learning Model for all students, Trevethan explained, but will still honor the Hybrid Learning Model that parents began signing up for last week. Should parents prefer the Distance Learning Model but already signed up for the Hybrid, they can complete a removal form on the TUSD website. 

TUSD will continue to be in communication with parents, she added, and two Virtual Community Forums have scheduled from 11 a.m. to noon and 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. July 22.

Distance Learning will feature daily live instruction from the classroom teacher through technology which may include Zoom meetings, Google classroom and other programs. The Hybrid Model will see students meet for approximately one hour per week with their Hybrid Model teacher, who will provide support and give assignments to be completed independently.

“We remain optimistic about returning students to campuses as science and/or data permits. Our planning for a phase-in return includes personal protective equipment and social-distancing protocols,” Trevethan said. “For now, our efforts will shift to ensuring all students have technology and Wi-Fi access to engage successfully, as well as providing resources/support to staff and parents.”

TUSD will continue to be in communication with parents, she added, and two Virtual Community Forums have scheduled from 11 a.m. to noon and 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. July 22.

“I hope you and your families feel encouraged and respected and understand this temporary school year format is more robust than that provided last spring when we were hurried to close schools and take shelter. We’ve learned much and planned extensively since early spring,” Trevethan said. “Our expectations are greater as well as our commitment to keeping students and families connected to learning, meeting the needs of all students including our English Learners, students with disabilities, and homeless/foster youth and providing social-emotional resources, nutrition and necessary interventions and enrichments.”

Denair Unified School District will also be adhering to Dr. Vaishampayan’s announcement. According to Superintendent Terry Metzger, DUSD will distribute Chromebooks to middle school and high school students for distance learning, while elementary students will receive packets from their teachers which will be combined with computer lessons.

Toward the end of June, DUSD had intended on students returning to the classroom with safeguards in place.

“We appreciate the challenges that our students and their families may be facing, but it is very important that we follow the directions given by local health experts,” Metzger said. “While we are eager to see everyone in person, Denair Unified has a detailed plan in place to deliver lessons to our students at all levels while they are learning from their homes.”

While Merced County has yet to announce any decision on its schools, Hilmar Unified School District told the Journal that results from a recent parent survey are still being examined and a reopening plan has not been decided upon.

To stay up to date on Stanislaus County announcements regarding COVID-19, visit For more information about TUSD’s reopening, visit