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Newsom says schools to remain closed

Madera Unified School District will decide in special meeting

“Students will not be returning to their school sites for the remainder of this semester/school year.”

This is the latest word from Madera County Superintendent of Schools, Cecilia Massettti, Ed.D., to the superintendents of Madera County’s school districts as they attempt to provide educational leadership in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although Massetti affirms that “recent messages and directives from Governor Newsom and Superintendent of Public Education Tony Thurmond have made it clear that it is in everyone’s best interests to offer students an education…through distance learning…,” she does not cite a direct order from the Governor or any government agency, state or local, which makes such action mandatory.

In a statement to The Tribune, MUSD Superintendent Todd Lile acknowledged that “each school board still must make local decisions based on the abundance of information and considerations.”

Although Lile is technically in charge of the school district by virtue of a board resolution recently passed, he is still maintaining close contact with trustees. Numerous observers of Madera Unified have expressed doubts that the superintendent would make any important decisions without direction from the school board.

Massetti emphasized in her letter that “School is not out. The school year is not over. It is only dismissed from the school sites for students.” She points to a “variety of strategies,” such as printed learning packets that can be completed at home, telecommunication and internet instruction, and online resources as tools available to students and teachers.

Virtually every community official throughout the state recognizes the prudence of distance learning rather than instruction in a brick-and-mortar classroom. Madera Unified teachers receive daily instructions (and sometimes hourly instructions) for conducting distance learning.

In his statement Thursday, Lile said that he and the school board are considering the fast moving developments. A special board meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday. It includes an executive session for discussing a resolution “regarding (the) extension of school closures through 2019-2020 school year.”

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