Escalon Unified School District is in the midst of the Christmas and New Year’s holiday break, and District Superintendent Ron Costa said they plan to re-open on schedule on Monday, Jan. 4.
“I think the re-opening has gone fine,” Costa said of the initial phased in opening of all grade levels, with kindergarten through fifth graders returning first during the fall, followed later by the middle and high school students.
Changes have been put in place to limit the passing periods for the middle and high school levels and multiple protocols are also in place for the elementary sites to limit class interaction.
With one brief shutdown and a return to distance learning for all following a few positive COVID-19 cases within the district several weeks ago, the schools had all re-opened after Thanksgiving. Costa said there have been very few confirmed cases districtwide and students and staff are doing a good job adhering to all safety protocols.
“We’re very low (case count) and I think that shows that the school is not a super spreader,” Costa noted.
Escalon is currently the only public school district in San Joaquin County with all grade levels in school; Ripon has its kindergarten through eighth grade students back but Costa said no other public district has its high schoolers on campus.
“The kids are glad to be back, it’s a real positive thing and we are seeing virtually no discipline problems,” he added.
Among the protocols in place are students and staff members having their temperature taken every morning before they leave for school and staying at home if they have any symptoms at all. Costa said after they returned from the Thanksgiving break, he estimated 70 percent of students were back in class, with the other 30 percent opting for the distance learning option.
He said he’s hopeful that they will not see a spike in cases after the holidays and will do their best to keep the kids in the classrooms as long as it is safe.
“The toughest thing for us could be the staffing,” he admitted, noting that if teachers are unable to work due to COVID, it will be difficult to find substitutes.
He also agreed that the distance learning model to start the year hampered some students and they are putting together a credit recovery/remediation program for the spring to help students bring grades back up.