Stanislaus schools move operations online as COVID cases rise

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In March 2019, Hughson High School Academic Decathlon team member Maddy Keo talks to a competitor at the California meet in Sacramento. Due to COVID-19, the 2022 Stanislaus County Academic Decathlon, with events this month and February, will be held online.

Some school districts in Stanislaus County are postponing student activities or moving them online as Covid-19 cases hit record highs.

School officials in the county’s largest districts said their schools have limited large gatherings, postponed sports games and delayed event planning. The changes are the latest examples of how students’ educational experiences have been radically altered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Student events organized by the Stanislaus County Office of Education will run virtually until at least February, according to spokeswoman Judy Boring. These include the mock trial and the academic decathlon. The office is planning in-person events in March “but will rotate as needed,” she said.

Until at least January, the Ceres Unified School District will postpone meetings and indoor events or move them online if physical distancing isn’t possible, spokeswoman Beth Parker Jimenez said Tuesday via email. Athletics and outdoor events are unaffected at this time, she said.

The Sylvan Union School District recently banned gatherings of more than 500 students and asked administrators to be careful when planning large gatherings of students, according to Velma Silva, executive assistant to the superintendent. The district has not allowed dances or activities since the pandemic began, Silva said via email.

Patterson High School has postponed activities such as dances until early February, district spokesman Johnny Padilla said by email on Tuesday. All other schools in the Patterson Unified School District do not have events scheduled in the near future, he said.

“While our district has not made a formal decision to cancel or postpone in-person school events such as dances, our schools have largely considered outbreak risk in planning their events,” said wrote Padilla.

City of Modesto Schools spokeswoman Krista Noonan said if high schools decide to hold winter ceremonies and dances, they will be outdoors and follow COVID health and safety protocols. -19.

Officials at each high school make decisions about school dances, Noonan said, but school administration teams are working closely with district leaders to adhere to COVID protocols.

District officials are “still assessing where we are with the current rate of transmission as decisions are made,” she said via email Wednesday.

Turlock Unified district leaders have “repeatedly assessed and modified events” to follow COVID-19 mitigation protocols, spokeswoman Marie Russell said via email Wednesday morning. She did not respond to a request for examples of events changed and the types of changes implemented.

The Oakdale Unified School District has postponed three women’s basketball games, one women’s soccer game and one men’s basketball game, Superintendent Dave Kline said Wednesday via email.

High school and college sports schedules across the county have also been moved due to COVID-19 protocols, The Bee reported.

Stanislaus County schools aren’t alone in taking these precautions. Sacramento City Unified, for example, announced Monday that it will temporarily suspend some extracurricular activities, including field trips, school dances and rallies, The Sacramento Bee reported. The Los Angeles Unified School District postponed athletic competitions this week, according to the Los Angeles Times.

COVID cases in California and Stanislaus County have reached record highs as the omicron variant spreads rapidly.

Emily Isaacman is an equity reporter for The Bee’s community-funded Economic Mobility Lab, which includes a team of reporters covering economic development, education and equity.

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Emily Isaacman covers education for Modesto Bee’s Economic Mobility Lab. She is originally from San Diego and graduated from Indiana University, where she majored in journalism and political science. Emily has interned at Chalkbeat Indiana, the Dow Jones News Fund and Reuters.

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