Tulare city schools to reopen for some students

Jermaine Johnson II

District will begin to bring back cohorts of specific TK–8th grade students next week

TULARE – Over a month after having their waiver to reopen approved, the Tulare City School District (TCSD) will finally be welcoming some students back on campus. Beginning on Wednesday, Feb. 10, the district will begin bringing back specific students in transitional kindergarten (TK) through eighth grade in a cohort model.

On Jan. 14, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) released new guidance for schools to reopen their campus to students. Despite their reopening waiver being previously approved, TCSD can no longer reopen until Tulare County’s seven-day average of daily COVID-19 cases improves from its current rate of over 60 cases per 100,000 to 25 cases per 100,000. Until then, the district can start bringing some students back on campus if they implement the cohort model. This model is intended to focus on high-need student groups and students who may not be able to benefit fully from distance learning offerings.

Students will be selected for the in-person cohort slots through the use of classroom data priority sheets based on criteria set forth by the state of California. Only 14-15 in-person cohort slots will be available, depending on how many teachers and aides are in the classroom. A teacher can only be assigned to one in-person cohort. Based upon the data priority sheet generated for each classroom, the teacher/site staff will contact each parent to determine placement in the in-person cohort or if they’ll be continuing in the distance learning zoom format. Cohorts cannot mingle with any other cohort, therefore bussing transportation will not be provided. Meals will be provided to all in-person cohorts as students leave for the day. In-person learning is optional to those who qualify and families will have the option for their student to remain on distance learning.

TCSD will have staggered start dates for each grade, beginning Wednesday, Feb. 10 with grades TK-2. First and second grade will return on Wednesday, Feb. 17. Third and fourth grade will return on Wednesday, Feb. 24. Fifth and sixth grade will return on Wednesday, March 3. The return date for seventh and eighth graders will be announced in the future.

Each grade will have a morning and afternoon cohort. The morning cohort will begin at 8:10 a.m. and will go until 10:40 a.m. for grades TK-3 while grades 4-6 will be released at 10:55 a.m. The afternoon cohort will begin at 1 p.m. and will go until 3:30 p.m. for grades TK-3 while grades 4-6 will be released at 3:45 p.m. Teachers will zoom at the opposite time of their in-person cohort. If the teacher has a morning in-person cohort, they will Zoom with their other students in the afternoon and vice versa.

All students will be required to wear masks the entire time they are on campus for in-person cohorts.

Temperature checks will be taken at the gate prior to students entering campus. Classrooms will be sanitized before, during, and after in person learning. Social distancing will be enforced and needlepoint bi-polar ionization systems will be running at all times to filter the air.

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