Yreka elementary schools return to daily in-person instruction

Bill Choy
Siskiyou Daily News
Evergreen School.

The Yreka Union Elementary School District plans to welcome students back to classrooms five days a week beginning Monday at Evergreen Elementary and Jackson Street School.

"Everyone has worked their tails off,” said YUESD superintendent Chris Harris. “I really appreciate the time and effort everyone has made during this time.” 

Both schools have been using a hybrid model since Sept. 28, with students attending every other day as part of "red" and "gold" cohorts in grades K-8. Students in the Transitional Kindergarten classes attend every day, although they're still on a shortened time schedule. 

The district briefly went to online only Sept. 11 after two staff members tested positive for COVID-19. They were asymptomatic. 

COVID-19 numbers have been low in Siskiyou County. The county is currently in the least restrictive of California’s four COVID-19 reopening tiers – the yellow tier.

“We're really excited,” Harris said. While everyone in the district has done their best with distance learning and the hybrid schedule, he said it's good for the students' social and emotional needs to be back in classrooms daily.

The district will have several safety measures in place, Harris said, adding, "Safety is first and foremost for us."

In a letter sent to parents, district school nurse Melissa Casson said precautions include a daily COVID-19 screening that must be completed at home before children come to school in the morning.

Parents and guardians are to perform the following steps each day: 

• Temperature check – if greater than 100.4, a child cannot come to school, and will be considered COVID positive until proven otherwise, or the appropriate amount of time has passed since symptoms started.

• Is your child (or anyone in the family) experiencing –cough, shortness of breath, congestion or runny nose  sore throat Nausea and/or vomiting, diarrhea, muscle and/or body aches, tiredness or fatigue, and decreased sense of taste and/or smell. If any one of the listed items is positive, do not bring your child/children to school.  Parents or guardians are asked to call your pediatrician, or primary health care provider for further guidance.  

If any of these symptoms develop over the course of the school day, parents and guardians will be notified to come and pick your child up from school.  

Harris believes if these guidelines can be followed, they can continue to curb the potential spread of COVID-19 and continue to have school in-person 

 “Our staff has done a great job of teaching proper hygiene practices and practicing the recommended guidelines set forth by our county health department,” Harris said in a letter to parents. “However, every single one of us has a responsibility to continue this progress.  Please, if your child has been exposed to symptomatic people, or is experiencing any symptoms ... keep them home! We would much rather have your student miss one day, versus putting the district back to distance learning for two weeks."

For middle school students, Harris said they will add one cohort to each grade level. For some, this means their homeroom teacher will be changing. Harris said this way, they can decrease the numbers in each cohort and better establish social distancing.  

Evergreen is for students in Transitional Kindergarten to 3rd grade; Jackson Street is grades 4-8.

School will be from 8 to 12:15 p.m. at Evergreen, and from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Jackson Street School for the foreseeable future, Harris said. He added that if things continue to improve, there is the possibility of hours increasing.