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RUSD Schools Plan For Fall Opening
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The Riverbank Unified School District (RUSD) is in the planning stages of reopening schools in the fall which will include some sports and safety precautions. The 2020-21 Budget was approved as well at the recent regular board meeting. The meeting was filled with several action items and several people including teachers attended the Zoom meeting.

Among the business was finalizing the slate of positions coming available on Nov. 3. Suzanne Dean held a term on the board for Trustee Area 3 through 2022 but recently resigned and left the seat vacant since April. The vacant seat will be added to the November ballot for a two-year term along with Trustee Area 5 held by Ana Vigil, and Trustee Area 1 held by Ernest Velasco for a four-year term. Board President Elizabeth Meza Trustee Area 4 and Board Clerk Susan Taylor Trustee Area 2 both hold terms through 2022. The Resolution and Order was formally adopted unanimously by the current governing board of RUSD at the meeting on June 16.

The 2020-21 Budget was approved with the district most likely meeting its financial obligations for the current fiscal year but may not meet its financial obligations in the two subsequent years. The District is self-certifying as “Positive/Qualified.”

The District received an official notice that the California Department of Education (CDE) approved a technology grant of 258,000 to purchase Chrome Books for students in grades 1 through 12. This will be beneficial for students especially if schools have to close down in the future.

“We missed round 1 but we were included in round 2,” stated RUSD Superintendent Christine Facella. “We are hearing that there will be support for Districts from the CDE with PPE but there has been nothing confirmed at this time.”

A letter outlining the plan to open school campuses in the fall was sent out to families and staff last week. The plan includes face coverings, hand washing, sanitizing to ensure safety for students and staff. The district ordered washable facial coverings with the school logo for each student.

“We are hoping that will encourage kids to take some pride and leave it (masks) on as opposed to taking it off constantly,” added Facella. “We know it is going to be a challenge and we recognize that. That was part of our discussion with teachers while providing that for them if they are more comfortable in something else that they have then that is okay as well.”

The students with medical conditions that may prevent them from wearing a facial covering will be handled on a case by case basis by the district nurse.

Riverbank High School Principal Greg Diaz met with the school’s sports coaches to discuss the guidelines and procedures. This includes being allowed to perform conditioning but may not use any equipment and must bring their own water. They will be checked for fevers and there will be no spectators or parents allowed to the practices. Currently, the sports that will be permitted are sports conditioning, swimming, diving, golf, tennis, cheerleading, cross country, and track and field. The sports that involve close contact are currently not recommended and at this time will not be allowed are basketball, water polo, wrestling, volleyball, football, soccer, baseball, and softball.

Field trips, assemblies, dances and rallies are also currently not recommended.

“It is tough because we know people want to get out and do things but we have some guidelines that we are going to be following,” said Facella regarding the current sports situation due to COVID-19.

The virus poses a very fluid situation for everyone as we have seen things change very quickly and at times on a daily basis. All the plans laid out will be as discussed unless the situation due to the virus changes. There are more specifics and details that will be released as summer continues.

The Administration at RHS has been planning an outdoor graduation ceremony that is to be held on Aug. 1 at 8:30 a.m. at the football stadium where the class of 2020 will be recognized including seniors from Adelante High School.

The District office will open on July 6 with regular hours. Stanislaus County as a whole plans to have a traditional opening of schools with safety precautions in place this fall.

“It does not address everything right now because these are just the planning stages,” explained Facella. “It will also include an option of virtual learning for families that are not comfortable with returning their child to school. It is an evolving situation as we all know. It can all change in August or down the road.”