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Superintendent Peterson Shares Information Regarding The Reopening Of Schools

Supt. Peterson

File photo

Dear Families and Staff,

I want to provide you with an update regarding the reopening of school on August 12, 2020, along with a full explanation. In early June we were predicting a “full opening” as we were trending to a “Level 3” status per our state level system. Things have changed, and our Merced County's Covid19 numbers are trending in the wrong direction. Hospitalizations have increased dramatically. A full opening is “off the table” per the Merced County Department of Public Health (See graph from the County).

At the last two Board meetings, two options for how our schools would be reopening in the fall were discussed in detail. One option was to create cohorts of students who would attend classes on a block schedule. The other option was to create an A/B Schedule where students would alternate between attending class on campus in person and online from home.

Because block scheduling would essentially rule out student choice when it comes to class selection, the district decided to move forward with the A/B Schedule option. As stated, schools will reopen on time, Wednesday, August 12, 2020. All students will have school each week with certain days scheduled on campus (in person) and certain days scheduled at home (online). Specific details about which days are in-person vs. online will be communicated in the coming weeks. Each grade level of students will be sorted into two groups, so that half the student body is on campus at a time, which enables social distancing guidelines to be followed much more easily. Different students have different, individual needs. With that in mind, students needing additional academic support, for example, students with special needs, English learners, and AP students, may be scheduled for additional on-campus learning during a given week.

In order for MUHSD to shift from a hybrid A/B opening to a full opening, county numbers will need to dramatically change. It is possible, but not likely. All stakeholders need to be prepared for an A/B opening.

While on campus, safety precautions will be in effect to prevent the contraction and spread of COVID-19, per the Merced County Department of Public Health. Such precautions include:

  • social distancing on buses and on campus, 
  • sanitizing desks, 
  • hand sanitizer in all classrooms and offices, and
  • face masks or shields, per Governor Newsom's mandate for California. 

Details for an online learning (only) option are currently under development and more information will be forthcoming for students who chose not to attend or cannot attend school on campus in our current circumstances. Parents and students will be given a choice to be fully online, and online students may participate in extracurricular activities.

With the exception of wrestling, sports and other extracurricular activities will go on with preventative measures in place. The close and constant contact involved in wrestling prevents it from being feasible at this point. Certain aspects of other sports may also be altered, and those athletes will be provided more details. Athletics and all extra curricular activities may be limited to Merced County competition only. We are waiting on CIF decisions later in July before we may make these decisions about fall competition.

A recent Facebook Live session was held on the district’s Facebook page where I addressed many viewer concerns related to our schools' reopening. I would encourage you to check it out.

Additionally, the Merced County Office of Education released its framework that school districts will be using when reopening for the 2020-2021 school year. The Merced Union High School District worked collaboratively with area schools and contributed to this Academic Planning Guide which provides more details about what to expect when schools reopen.

Finally, a survey will be distributed to families in mid-July asking if they plan to send their students to school or plan to keep them home. The choice will be to return to school on an A/B schedule or go fully online for the semester. The data will inform our decisions as we continue to prepare for reopening our schools and facilities.

Enjoy summer break!

Alan Peterson
Merced Union High School District

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