Prior Updates

December 3, 2020:

CUSD Families,
Today, Governor Newsom announced a Regional Stay Home Order to be implemented when ICU capacity within a given region drops below 15%.  While the San Joaquin Valley region, which encompasses Stanislaus County, does not yet meet this criteria, this is projected to change within the coming days, and a stay-home order is anticipated for our region by mid-December (read the governor’s order HERE).
What does this mean for CUSD schools? The governor’s order does not impact schools that have already reopened for in-person learning, with or without a waiver. If your child is currently attending school in person, he or she will continue to attend in person. Guidance for school districts allows in-person hybrid and small-group instruction models without modification.
CUSD will continue to stringently observe the health and safety protocols outlined in our Reopening & Safety Plan, which include recommendations from state and local health officials for the wearing of masks, physical distancing, cleaning and disinfecting, and other measures.  Thank you to students, staff, and families for following these protocols.  Your diligence and support have been vital to keeping schools open and safe.
As we approach the holiday break, which begins December 18, it remains crucial to wear masks outside the home, avoid gathering with non-household members, and to stay home (and keep children home) when sick. This is a difficult but necessary step in reducing the transmission of illness, reopening schools for all students, and regaining a sense of normalcy. I know we all look forward to that time.
In the meantime, if your child is struggling to manage emotions, behaviors, and/or academics, please reach out through the teacher or school for support. 
Thank you, Scott Siegel, Ed.D. Superintendent


November 12, 2020:

CUSD Families and Staff,
Stanislaus County's redesignation this week to the state's most restrictive "purple" tier, based on an increase in COVID-19 case rates, has been temporarily halted pending the outcome of the County’s adjudication claim requesting reconsideration. What does this mean for students in grades Preschool-2, who have already returned to school on a hybrid schedule, as well as for students in grades 3-6, who are scheduled to return on a hybrid schedule next week, and secondary students who are not yet scheduled to return?
Public Health guidance allows schools to remain open once a single grade level returns to campus, regardless of any change in the county's tier designation. Currently, all CUSD elementary schools are providing in-person instruction for more than one grade level and will be allowed to remain open. Grades 3-6 will return next week as scheduled (Group A on Monday, November 16, and Group B on Tuesday, November 17). Families, students, and staff have done an outstanding job observing the health and safety protocols in place to limit the spread of illness. Thank you, and please keep up the great work!
As previously shared, we are working on a plan for secondary reopening; however, the timing is contingent upon Stanislaus County's ability to improve its COVID-19 status. The sooner case numbers improve, the sooner students can return to the in-person learning that is so beneficial to both their academic and social-emotional well-being. Please continue to check here and on ParentSquare for updates as well as information on resources to support students and families.
Also, a FREE drive-through/walk-up COVID-19 testing site is now open in Ceres for those with or without insurance: Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at 2701 4th Street, Ceres (patrons are asked to bring a photo ID and insurance card if applicable). Please direct any questions to covid-testing@hrsupportpros.com.

October 9, 2020:

CUSD Families,
As previously shared, we look forward to beginning to bring students back to campuses as early as next month based on current COVID-19 projections for our county. In addition to a hybrid schedule in which students attend school in one of two groups on alternate days to minimize the number of students on campus at a time (with distance learning on the other days), students will return in grade-level cohorts beginning with PreK/2nd Grade. At this time, the anticipated schedule is as follows:
     PreK-2nd Grade - In-person instruction begins week of November 2, 2020      3rd-6th* Grades - In-person instruction begins week of November 16, 2020      *3rd-5th for Whitmore Charter
Please note that this schedule is contingent on Stanislaus County meeting the conditions for reopening schools, as determined by state and local health officials, and is subject to change should conditions change. As shared last week, Secondary schools (7-12) will take longer to reopen safely, as their potential for the spread of illness is higher due to much larger student populations and intermingling of students changing classes multiple times each day.
Please check ParentSquare for your child(ren)'s group assignment, and contact the Child Welfare & Attendance department at (209) 556-1540 if the assignment presents a hardship for your family. Our goal is that all students in a household remain assigned to the same group; however, in consultation with families, some secondary students' group assignments may be shifted at a later date to balance class sizes and are, therefore, subject to change.
A Reopening & Safety Plan (above) has been developed to reflect guidelines that will be in place to support the safety and well-being of students and staff during in-person instruction, and to provide additional information regarding the academic day. Thank you to the advisory groups of families and staff who provided valuable feedback that helped to inform this plan, which is a working document that may be updated as conditions and recommendations change. Should you have questions not addressed in the Reopening & Safety Plan, please contact your child’s school.
The past months have brought many challenges, and as much as I would like to tell you that things will be back to “normal” soon, unfortunately, we still have a long way to go before that is the case. If your child is struggling, we want to help. Please contact your child’s teacher or school to access the academic and mental health resources that are available.
In addition, the Stanislaus County Health Services Agency and Office of Education want to remind residents that community-wide COVID-19 testing is a critical step to reopening schools and businesses.  Please visit http://www.schsa.org/corona-virus/testing/ to access FREE testing if you have symptoms (such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell) or believe you may have been exposed.
Thank you, Scott Siegel, Ed.D. Superintendent

October 2, 2020

CUSD Families,
As you may be aware, new cases of COVID-19 in Stanislaus County are continuing a downward trend, which is good news for reopening campuses for in-person instruction. Current estimates are that the numbers will decrease sufficiently to allow reopening of elementary schools (PreK-6) in early November. Please note that this estimate is based on current data and could change if conditions change. Secondary schools (7-12) will take longer to reopen safely, as their potential for the spread of illness is higher due to much larger student populations and intermingling of students changing classes multiple times each day.
In reopening campuses, the safety of students, staff, and families will remain our top priority. CUSD will adhere to protocols and procedures recommended by state and local health officials to prevent the spread of illness, including frequent cleaning and sanitizing of buildings and surfaces, routine hand-washing/hand-sanitizing, and social distancing. 
To allow for social distancing, a staggered, or “hybrid,” schedule will be necessary to minimize the number of students on campus at a time, beginning when elementary schools reopen.  Students will attend school in one of two groups:
GROUP A - Monday and Thursday; OR GROUP B - Tuesday and Friday
Families will be notified the week of October 5 of their child(ren)’s group assignment. All students within a household will attend school on the same days. On the days they are not at school for in-person instruction, students will participate in distance learning.   We know you are likely to have questions in the coming weeks. Please continue to check ParentSquare for updates. In the meantime, if your child is struggling academically or has social-emotional needs that are not being met, please keep in mind that CUSD has additional resources available to support students and families during distance learning. Please reach out to your child’s teacher or school.
Thank you for persevering through extraordinarily challenging times. We are looking forward to seeing students back in classrooms as soon as safely possible.
Sincerely, Scott Siegel, Ed.D. Superintendent

August 21, 2020

CUSD Families,

I would like to address a topic that has made the press over the last day or so. Let me start by stating that I am committed to proceeding with extreme caution in regard to any action on this topic.

Stanislaus County is on the state’s COVID watch list. To come off the watch list, there are criteria that must be met, including the number of new cases, which should be under 100. (This is different than the number of newly confirmed cases each day as reported in the media. If you are interested in the criteria and how the numbers are calculated, here is a link https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/COVID19CountyDataTable.aspx .) Stanislaus County currently is at 287. If we drop below 200, school districts will be permitted to apply for waivers to allow limited numbers of students to return for in-person instruction at grades TK-6. The Stanislaus County Health Services Agency announced yesterday that the county is dropping at a rate that might allow waivers to be submitted by the end of August. This information has been shared through some social media channels in a manner that could easily be misconstrued as advocating for a rapid reopening. I want to assure you that CUSD is not going to rush into any action in this regard.

While we will begin to explore what a waiver might look like for our district, I am cognizant of several factors. Our stakeholders (parents and staff) need to be involved. I am concerned about a rush to reopen similar to what occurred in our society in May that led us to the situation we are in now. I am not convinced that the number of new cases, testing and contact tracing are indicative of reopening at this time. I also want to be very appreciative of the fact that changing our distance learning model to include limited in-person instruction might lessen the effectiveness of what we are doing. With all of that said, I also know that we want to see our students back in classrooms. Balancing these competing interests demands that we proceed cautiously and thoughtfully.

Please know that the safety and best interests of our students and staff will drive this planning. We may also proceed more slowly than other districts. As we navigate the planning process, I would rather be careful than fast.

Thank you for your understanding and patience.

Scott Siegel, Ed.D.
Superintendent

July 13, 2020

CUSD Families and Staff,

As previously shared with you, we have been optimistic that CUSD would be able to welcome students back to school for in-person learning on August 12, but have also been planning and preparing for other scenarios based on the rapidly changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Earlier today, during a weekly call between Stanislaus County school district superintendents and the Stanislaus County Health Services Agency, we were informed that the current rate of new infections and hospitalizations in Stanislaus County does not support the safe reopening of schools.  Unfortunately, it is highly unlikely that these conditions will improve sufficiently by August 12 to allow for in-person learning.  At this time, CUSD is planning for a robust distance learning program until Stanislaus County schools are allowed to return to face-to-face instruction.  We will continue to work closely with our county public health department to ensure that this happens as quickly as conditions allow, but it is not known at this time when reopening will be permitted.

This is obviously not the news we had hoped for, and we know you will have many questions and concerns as we move toward the start of the new school year.  More information will be forthcoming soon.  In the meantime, we would like to hear from you.  Please CLICK HERE to submit questions that we will use to guide our communications and develop answers to Frequently Asked Questions.

We are committed to doing all we can to support students’ learning in whatever form it takes. Thank you for your patience and support as we move forward together.

Sincerely,
Scott Siegel, Ed.D.
Superintendent