Merced school districts prepare for the return of in-person learning

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MERCED, California. (KGPE) – School is back in session next week for many schools in Merced. For the first time in nearly a year-and-a-half, students will be returning in person, and the district laid out some of their plans on Monday.

“We’re a little nervous because it’s been a year and a half/two years since we’ve opened a school, so people are excited,” said Merced County Schools Superintendent Dr. Steve Tejen.

While in-person learning is a step towards normalcy, students and staff members will still be required to wear masks indoors.

“That’s our best defense, other than the vaccinations,” Tejen said.

Students are not required to get the vaccine, but Tejen is encouraging those aged 12-18 to receive it. As of Monday, he says only 15% of eligible students in the county have received the vaccine.

“We’d love to see that closer to 70, because we know that’s really more effective. So, we’ve got some work to do there,” he said.

Part of that work is the many vaccine clinics being set up at schools throughout the county, aimed towards students and their families.

According to the health department, only 39% of eligible residents in Merced County have received the vaccine

“One of the biggest fears that we have within the health department is that some of the tougher days may be ahead of us,” said Dr. Rebecca Nanyonjo, the Merced County public health director.

Superintendent Tejen says employees are not required to get the vaccine but are required to say if they have or haven’t. He also says masks and COVID-19 tests will be available at all county schools, and all schools have upgraded or replaced their HVAC systems.

“They’ve either put in new, stronger filters, or they’ve replaced the HVAC systems completely. We know that we need to have the air moved out an hour before kids are in and an hour afterward,” he said.

Merced schools will have vaccine clinics at the following locations:

Thursday, August 5:

Golden Valley High 9 am-12 pm

Yosemite High 4 pm-7 pm

Friday, August 6: Buhach Colony High 4 pm-7 pm

Saturday, August 7: Livingston High 4 pm-7 pm

Friday, August 13: El Capitan High 9 am-12 pm

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