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Chowchilla schools announce changes to instruction

The goal for opening schools in the Chowchilla Union High School District has been to conduct in-person, on campus instruction when doors open on Aug. 18. As a school district and educators, CHUSD believes that the best education comes from in-person daily instruction.

However, the COVID-19 virus has been surging in the Central Valley and other areas of California. The surge of cases in Madera County increased to the level of placement on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s “watch list.” In total, there are 32 counties on this list.

On July 17, Newsom mandated strict criteria for opening schools in California that make it unlikely the vast majority of districts will have in-person on-campus instruction to start the 2020-2021 school year.

Newsom mandated that all public schools in California counties that are on the watch list for surging COVID-19 cases shall not hold in-person classes. These schools in watch list counties will have strict criteria to open after they are removed from the watch list when the surge of the virus subsides.

As Madera County is on the watch list, schools in the CUHSD will begin academic instruction through distance learning on Tuesday, Aug. 18. CUHSD will provide all students with distance learning for the first quarter of the 2020-2021 school year. Each quarter, the district will re-examine all of the scientific virus data, COVID-19 statistical data, recommendations from the Madera County Department of Public Health, current advice from health and safety professionals, and mandates and guidelines from the governor in order to bring students on campus for direct instruction, if possible.

Potential school schedule: Phase 1 (Quarter 1) — Aug. 18-Oct. 16, Distance learning. Phase 2 (Quarter 2) — Oct. 19-Dec. 18, Re-examine. Phase 3 (Quarter 3) — Jan. 4, 2021-March 19, 2021, Re-examine. Phase 4 (Quarter 4) — March 22, 2021-June 3, 2021, Re-examine.

Safety of students and staff has always been the district’s first priority and will continue to be through the COVID-19 pandemic. Students cannot learn; teachers cannot teach; bus drivers cannot drive; cafeteria workers cannot cook and serve food; maintenance, grounds, and custodians cannot maintain facilities; if they don’t feel safe. CUHSD has a mature, knowledgeable and experienced staff. The protection of this rich resource in staffing is critical to maintaining the highest level of academic instruction and environment for students.

Teachers and administrators are working hard, having deep discussions and making plans for robust educational strategies and curriculum to give students the best possible education through distance learning.

Chowchilla school districts: Alview-Dairyland Union Elementary School District, Chowchilla Elementary School District, and the Chowchilla Union High School District are fully aware of the hardships that distance learning and families face, and having students in multiple schools/districts, therefore, they will continue to work together to align to help with those hardships.

Both the state office of CID and local Central Section CIF released a plan for sports in the coming school year on Monday. The plan calls for two seasons of sports (fall and spring) instead of the traditional three seasons (fall, winter and spring). Fall will consist of: Cross country, water polo, volleyball, football and traditional competitive cheer. Spring will consist of: Soccer, tennis, swim and dive, wrestling, basketball, baseball, softball, gold, track and field, and competitive sport cheer. The first day of practice for the fall season is scheduled for Dec. 14. The first day of practice for the spring season is either Feb. 22, 2021, or March 15, 2021 — depending on the sport. There will be more information as December approaches.

This COVID-19 virus surge may have temporarily changed how the district operates, but its commitment to “doing what’s best for kids” is unwavering. The district is constantly monitoring the daily changes resulting from the virus and in regular and special meetings with other Madera County school districts, Madera County Department of Public Health, Valley Children’s Hospital, and other professionals and experts to make the best decisions for students and staff.

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