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Grades K-6 won't return to class until at least February

Grades K-6 won't return to class until at least February

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SELMA — Students in the Selma Unified School District's traditional Kindergarten through sixth grade did not go back to the classroom on Monday, Jan. 25. Trustees will wait until the Feb. 9 meeting to set a new date, hoping the COVID-19 numbers improve and the spike is over. Small cohorts will return on Feb. 8.

The cohorts were few in numbers earlier in the school year but effective. “The kids that really need the help are getting what they needed," said Interim Superintendent Dr. Marilyn Shepherd. It is a small number in each school.

Probably because of the pandemic, 29 staff members requested a leave of absence from positions like four teachers (math, English, special day class and newcomers/migrant, two bus drivers, campus safety officer, seven food service assistant and others.

Patience and flexibility have been key words for Dr. Shepherd and the county health department.
 
”We want to be as flexible as we can,” said Dr. Shepherd, who added in the two weeks she has been here that things have changed a lot. "But we also have to address the variables.”

School officials didn’t release the number of COVID cases in the district for students but did have the numbers for certificated and classified staff, administration and board members. Fourty positive cases have been reported for certificated personnel while 44 cases have been reported to classified personnel. 
 
The worst week was that of Dec. 21, when 13 total cases were reported while 11 were reported during Thanksgiving time, the week of Nov. 30.
The new COVID-19 cases in Fresno County per 100,000 per day, as of January 14, increased to 81.6 per 100,000. That was an increase of 5.6 in just two days. As of Jan. 18, the per 100,000 rate dropped slightly to 75.2 per 100,000. The positivity rate was 19.4 percent.
 
Instead of being in the purple tier, Dr. Shepherd says that we are in the deep purple tier.

Other schools were able to come back because waivers were approved before Thanksgiving.
 
Governor Newsom has released a new safe schools hub online at covid-19.ca.gov. Anyone can go on there and see everything that we see, said Dr. Shepherd.
 
The current vaccine has nothing for children, as of yet. The youngest able to take the vaccine is reportedly 16 years old.
 
Even after schools have opened, the number of COVID cases remained low, said Dr. Shepherd, quoting figures from a recent zoom meeting.
 
To safely reopen schools, she quoted from a new CDC report, transmission in communities must be kept in check.
 
“We are in a good place to reopen, I think, where children can come to school and be relatively safe,” said Dr. Shepherd. “We have to put a lot of things in place but our numbers certainly don't allow it."
 
The governor also released a new guidance checklist for schools. "I know it is going to require a lot more detail," she said for secondary students. She has checked with the surrounding districts, ones that are planning to open, to see what they are doing to prepare.
 
But if the regional stay at home order stays in place, there won't be anyone bringing students back to the classroom.
 
"We're really concerned about our employees," said Dr. Shepherd.
With two new board members, the District held a special Governance meeting on Monday. This is the first of several special meetings as Selma Unified selects a new Superintendent to replace Dr. Tanya Fisher, who retired.


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