MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Merced Union High School District Board of Trustees has voted to allow students back on campus five days a week.
Seniors will return to campus on March 29. Everyone else will return after Spring Break on April 12.
This is the first large district in our area to do so.
Alan Peterson, the superintendent of Merced Union High School District, said this is only possible because of the low number of positive COVID cases in Merced County, health officials allowing students to be within three feet of each other and about one-third of the students choosing to continue distance learning."
"Nobody knows more than a high school student of what this pandemic has been like not being able to be in school and have those high school experiences," said Ashlyn Lawry, a junior at Merced High School.
She and her classmate and teammate, senior Kaitlyn Brown, are enjoying being back on campus.
Now they're excited about the chance to get back on school grounds full time.
"I feel like I'm learning a lot more in the actual classroom environment and my teachers have been really great at actually creating activities for us to do rather than sitting on our Chromebook for the fifth time in a week," said Kaitlyn Brown, a senior at Merced High School.
Anyone who would like to continue distance learning may do so.
"We understand that every day is important and we want seniors to have that opportunity as soon as possible and that's when it's feasible for our district," said Peterson.
The district will continue with the same schedule it has been on, releasing students about an hour early to allow time for one-on-one meetings with teachers.
Safety protocols will remain in place, including mandatory masks. Peterson said, in most cases, students will remain six feet apart in classrooms.
"I want the community, I want the parents to have confidence that we're going to finish the year strong." Peterson said.
For students like Brown and Lawry, they're ready to make up for the time they've lost on campus.
"My grades have been slipping more than usual but the AB schedule has helped me improve on some of my classes, and I just can't wait to go back full time," said Lawry.
Peterson said all MUHSD staff has had the opportunity to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. He said the district will continue to make the vaccine available to anyone who may change their mind.
Peterson said they are also working on making a vaccine clinic possible for students who would like one. He expects that could happen in the coming weeks.
Students in Merced Union High School District to return to campus 5 days a week