The first day of school for Turlock Unified School District campuses is Aug. 10, and with the date fast approaching, the district has announced several changes. These changes include a host of new hires, new bell schedules and new safety protocols.
In terms of new hires, the district shared that there will be 138 new faces across the 15 TUSD campuses and offices. Superintendent Dana Salles Trevethan has long had a tradition of meeting with new hires for 10-minute meet-and-greet chats. Thus far, she has already met with over 50 individuals who are anxious to begin, ranging from interns to veteran teachers with more than 15 years of teaching experience in neighboring districts.
Trevethan has also continued outreach to the greater campus community as she released her annual Back to School message on July 25. In her message, she stressed the importance of teamwork and safe, inclusive environments.
“The first bell will ring on August 10 and our schools and classrooms will welcome their communities with compassion and sensitivity to support inclusive school cultures—environments that build connections and seek input. Everyone’s voice is important, especially when it comes from a place of heart, resolution, and respect so collaborative efforts can make great things happen for ALL in TUSD,” Trevethan said.
One word that Trevethan and the district staff are putting an increased emphasis on is “scholar.” She explained that all TUSD students will now be referred to as TUSD scholars to demonstrate confidence in learning and abilities to perform at the highest levels.
“We believe high expectations yield greater levels of performance. It’s our commitment to you, your children, and my colleagues—and one I make with great honor,” Trevethan said.
One of the biggest changes, though, is the new bell schedules, which is something that is impacting all public high schools and middle schools in the state of California. In October 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 328, which states that high school 1st period classes cannot start earlier than 8:30 a.m. and that middle schools cannot start before 8 a.m.
Due to Turlock High and Pitman High schedules being directly impacted by the legislation and to accommodate for home-to-school transportation, TUSD has modified bell schedules for elementary schools, junior high schools and middle schools. The district explained that the new bell schedules will not impact lunch times, where all students this year will be receiving meals free of charge. Bell schedules for each TUSD campus for the 2022-2023 school year can be found at www.turlock.k12.ca.us/bellschedules.
The reasoning behind the bell schedule legislation is based on studies showing increased academic performance, school attendance and mental health for students at schools that started later in the day. The topic of mental health was also stressed by Trevethan in her Back to School message, stating that there will be increased access to clinicians.
Health as it relates to COVID-19 is also continuing to be a main point of focus by the school district, with some changes being implemented to certain aspects of testing and isolation protocol.
For those displaying symptoms of COVID-19, students must either test for the virus, get a doctor’s clearance or stay home in isolation for 10 days. If a student tests positive for the virus and is asymptomatic, they are no longer required to quarantine for 10 days. Instead, those who test positive must remain at home for at least five days from the start of symptoms or after the date of a first positive test if there are no longer symptoms. Nevertheless, students must wear face-coverings around others for a total of 10 days after isolation ends and they return to school.
COVID-19 testing is available at the TUSD Child Nutrition Center on 1901 Auto Mall Drive. The center is open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Proof of insurance is required. Campus community members are encouraged to contact the school nurse at their school for other options. Free COVID-19 antigen tests for screening purposes are also available at TUSD.
“Although the summer months brought about changes in COVID-19 statistics, variants and mitigation guidelines, TUSD will do what is necessary to keep schools open and our TUSD community safe,” Trevethan said. “Because our scholars learn and thrive in-person, we will maintain required mitigation efforts and evaluate those recommended.”
Safety measures as it relates to outside dangers will continue to be prioritized by the district this year. Perimeter school fencing, locked classroom doors and increased campus supervision will remain in place to maintain safe and secure schools at all 15 sites. These safety measures were reimplemented after the Uvalde, Texas tragedy in May.
With all the changes, Trevethan is optimistic that they can combine to help create a school year full of successes and memories.
“We’re eager to begin the 2022-23 school year with optimism and excitement for what lies ahead for our students, families and staff as we embark on a year of traditions, in-person learning and renewed expectations for rigorous and engaged learning and professional development,” she said.
For the latest updates about campus policies, community members are encouraged to follow @TurlockUSD on Instagram and Twitter, “Like” the Turlock Unified School District page on Facebook, or keep tabs on www.turlock.k12.ca.us/TUSD.