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Students return to their new normal next week after a year at home

As 12,000 elementary students prepare to head back to the classroom throughout Riverside Unified School District (RUSD) next week, district leadership says secondary students are not far behind.

Starting Tuesday, March 9th, the 60 percent of RUSD families who selected the in-person model for the 2021 school year will send their students to the classroom one day per week. According to Assistant Superintendent Tim Walker, gradually integrating more days throughout the week will keep COVID-19 cases low and allow them to bring in more students.

In an update video addressed to RUSD staff in February, after Superintendent Dr. David Hansen welcomed elementary teachers and staff back to their facilities for the coming weeks of back-in-school learning, he made note of the potential next phase for March. “In-person secondary staff, numbers are dropping and you may be one week behind our elementary colleagues, be prepared,” he said in the video.

Now with a state-approved Covid Safety Plan (CSP), RUSD schools have to maintain several standards in each classroom to prevent a spread of the virus.

“Some of it outlines how everyone has to keep proper distance, wear three-ply masks, how there are now plexiglass shields on desks … and regular sanitization stations,” Walker said. “These are all the things necessary while returning in a hybrid model, while also distant learning part of the time.”

Once Riverside County moves from the purple or “widespread” into red of the state’s COVID-19 tier system, Walker said the hope is that the county and RUSD will meet the requirements to open classrooms for secondary students.

As of yesterday, there are 11 new positive cases each day per 100,000 people and Riverside has a positivity rate of just below six percent but the county risk level is still considered in the widespread category.