Merced Union might delay start of school year

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- School districts throughout Merced County have been planning for a mix of in-person and online classes, depending on what each family chooses.

Local parent Arturo Solis says, "I want my boys to go back because you get the interaction and attention from the teacher. It's a lot different doing it online compared to being face to face in a classroom."

But California's new guidelines will require remote learning only until the county is off the state's monitoring list for at least 14 days.

RELATED: Gov. Newsom says California counties on watch list must keep schools closed

Merced County Office of Education Media and Communications Manager Nathan Quevedo says, "Governor Newsom's announcement really restricted some of the choices Merced County schools wanted to give parents."

Quevedo says all 20 districts in the county have been working to improve their online teaching programs and ensure families have access to the technology they need for this fall.

He explains, "Since we started this distance learning in March with the temporary school closures, educators weren't as prepared as they are now. Now school districts have robust plans for distance learning."

But Superintendent Alan Peterson says there may be another option for the 10,500 students in the Merced Union High School District.

Peterson explains, "We are in a situation that is extreme, and that requires extreme solutions so we're going to look at the numbers the next couple of weeks, we're going to talk with public health, and we may consider pushing the calendar back to a later start a time for our students after Labor Day."

Peterson says the missed days could be made up in the spring at a time when the risk of COVID-19 may be much lower, and it would allow staff members more time to prepare for the changes. The school board is expected to discuss that possibility at a special meeting on July 29.
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