CLOVIS, California (KGPE) – Clovis Unified School District welcomed students back to the classroom on Monday, following old traditions and new health guidelines.
At Jefferson Elementary, the 2021-2022 school year kicked off with the annual ringing of the bell, a 137-year celebration signaling the first day of instruction for the district’s 43,000 students.
The first day back follows controversy over mask-wearing in the classroom. At a board meeting last week, a revised COVID-19 Safety Plan that aligns with state mandates was approved. Students and staff are required to mask up indoors unless they get a doctor’s note.
“Not every child and not every person can wear a mask due to medical conditions, physical disability, mental health conditions, or hearing impairments,” said Clovis Unified’s Kelly Avants.
So far, around 125 students and less than two dozen staff members have a complete exemption on file.
“I know some parents are still waiting on physician appointments, and so our schools are prepared to work with them,” she added.
Students waiting on a doctor’s note can be put in a short-term independent study. That option is also available to those who may need to quarantine if they’re exposed to the virus. Avants says the district is following other health guidelines.
“Everything from indoor air quality improvements that were made over the course of last school year, to those screenings at home that parents need to make sure they do before sending their child to school, checking for those covid symptoms. There is increased sanitization of the classrooms. We have staff that has been added to handle the cleaning.”
For students and parents, ditching virtual learning this time around is good news.
“I’m going to 4th grade and I’m really excited,” shared Liyan Abatulib. “Third grade I’ve been half on Zoom, half in person.”
“Last year I was online for the full 18 months, so it’s my first day coming back in person. Excited, but also a little bit nervous,” said Aubrey Pope, a senior at Clovis High School.
“We’re just super excited. We take education as a priority,” said Amanda Nulph, whose three daughters experienced lessons at home in 2020.