Merced County schools finalize reopening plans

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- North Valley school districts are slowly opening their classrooms to students, but rising COVID-19 numbers could bring their plans to a halt.

It was just Monday that students finally stepped through the doors of Shaffer Elementary.

"It's so refreshing. We've missed our Roadrunners terribly," said Shaffer Elementary Principal Michele McCabe. "The academic and emotional support we can offer to our families is so needed."

The elementary school welcomed back small cohorts of students this week, transforming the classrooms with plexiglass and adding touchless water dispensers. The district has also appointed COVID coordinators in charge of new health policies and contact tracing.

"One of the main things we've done is create wellness rooms at each of the school sites," said school nurse and COVID coordinator, Cheryl Brown. "These are designated rooms at each site for students that are having possible symptoms of COVID."

The plan is to welcome back TK through third-grade next Wednesday, but rising Covid case numbers could put that in jeopardy.

"We did our part and got our numbers down so schools could open, but in the last few days, we have seen an increase in the cases," said Superintendent of Atwater Elementary School District Sandra Schiver.

Now they're asking the community to get tested.

"We, as a county, need to have more people tested. That's the area that's putting us in jeopardy of moving to purple," explained McCabe.

The district is still waiting on its waiver from the state. Therefore the county has to stay in the red tier to bring back students.

"We want our families back, our families want their children back, so whatever we need to do to get them in school, in-person is what we need to do," added McCabe.

The plan is to bring forth through sixth-grade back November 2 and middle school students November 9.
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