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District Plans, Hopes For March Red Tier
District officials are planning for a mid-March return of students to the Oakdale Junior High and Oakdale High School campuses. Kim Van Meter/The Leader

If all goes according to plan, students may return to the Oakdale Junior High and Oakdale High School campuses next month. A letter from the district detailing the planned return was sent out last week, indicating it’s hoped the pieces fall into place for the opening of the secondary sites.

While the announcement is welcome news to many parents eager to see their students return to the campus classroom, Oakdale Joint Unified School District Superintendent Marc Malone clarified that this new projection still relies upon the county dropping into the red tier. On a positive note, under the current trendline projected by the County Health Officer, Stanislaus County should be in the red tier by March 15.

The OJUSD has a board meeting scheduled for Monday, March 8. Administrators should have an official opening date by this board meeting but hopefully an announcement will be made sooner to give parents time to prepare.

“The worst case scenario (is) we would have to wait until that date to announce if we have received the green light from County Health to open,” Malone said. “Our plan is communicated and we have Memorandums of Understanding with both of our bargaining groups so the OJUSD can open as soon as it is permissible.”

Assuming students can return to the high school and junior high campuses, the posted hybrid schedule will go into effect.

However, due to safety concerns, no large gatherings/rallies/assemblies will be permitted.

Parents of OJUSD students received the email Wednesday, Feb. 10 sharing the updated plan to reopen the secondary school sites within the district.

The email, in part, stated:

The Stanislaus County Department of Public Health has notified all school districts in Stanislaus County that if current virus trendlines are maintained, it will be permissible to open grades 7-12 to in-person instruction effective Monday, March 15, 2021 in a Hybrid Model of instruction.

Also, the email noted: If current trendlines are not maintained, then that will delay any potential reopening. Upon our reopening of grades 7-12, the OJUSD will utilize the Hybrid Block Schedule Model of instruction that was approved by the Board of Trustees at the November, 2020 Board Meeting. This reopening plan has been vetted and approved on two occasions by Stanislaus County Public Health.

For those that want more information, district officials said that the overall reopening plans for each grade 7-12 school, including the respective bell schedules, have been posted on each school website and on the District website.

Families not comfortable with in-person instruction will be given the option of registering for Independent Study, said school officials, and families can register for Independent Study by calling their respective grade 7-12 school.

“The OJUSD will continue using the current Hybrid Model of instruction for grades TK-6 until further notice. However, we will vigilantly monitor all social distancing norms for any adjustments that would allow us to return to our Traditional Model of instruction at any time during the remainder of this school year,” the email summarized. “Families can look for communication from their home school sites regarding the specific logistics of the return to school for grades 7-12.”