By Ed Martin, Editor
Lemoore schools plan to open on time as governor orders new wave of closures Monday due to rising COVID-19 infections

Lemoore’s two major school districts, Lemoore High School District and the Lemoore Union Elementary School District are planning to open the upcoming school year on schedule as the seven-campus elementary district begins face-to-face student instruction on August 11 while local high school students start their school year on August 12.

In fact, according to the Kings County Department of Education website, virtually all the county’s schools are planning to open on schedule, all of them practicing similar safety protocols as students return to campuses.

However, virtually all the plans are subject to the whims of the coronavirus as infections and deaths continue to increase in California.

In a well-developed plan, found on its website, the Lemoore elementary district spelled out the steps it took to develop its reopening plan and the safety measures needed to keep the coronavirus at bay.

“We have worked diligently with the Kings County Department of Public Health and Kings County Office of Education to ensure our planning meets expected mitigation efforts and have used parent and staff surveys to help guide our understanding of community needs,” stated the comprehensive website.

Lemoore Elementary District Reopening Plan

District officials acknowledge that some students and staff may test positive for COVID-19 throughout the 2020-2021 school year. However, district officials remain confident that safety measures and identification, isolation, and tracking procedures will slow the spread while our students have access to quality education and services.

The elementary district’s website covers all the bases, from safety concerns to frequently asked questions. For example, students and staff are asked to self-check daily before attending schools, reminding them that if they have COVID-1 symptoms don’t come to school and call the school. Students’ temperatures will be taken at each school site before starting school for the day.

In a June 29 memo sent to Lemoore Union High School staff and teachers, Lemoore Superintendent Debbie Muro, in addition to spelling out the district’s budget woes, which included deep cuts to material budgets designed to avoid layoffs, reported to staff that schools would open on schedule.

“We couldn’t have accomplished this without the Board’s help in allowing us to use money in our reserves to make up the huge deficit,” wrote Muro. “This does mean, however, that we will need to make do with what we have.”

Muro told her staff that the district is planning to start on time, and students will return to a regular daily schedule, except for Jamison High School, the district’s alternative site, which will run on a half-day schedule.

Lemoore High School will take steps to screen students and staff before coming on campus. Such measures include wearing facemasks, hand sanitizer, and social distancing in the classrooms. Seating will be four to six feet apart between students.

Some of the school’s facilities, including the cafeteria, teachers’ lounge, locker rooms, and a few others will be unavailable to most staff and students. She said the school would have a “distinct” traffic flow patterns so that students and staff are not face to face as much as possible.

Muro went on to explain that students who wish to opt-out of regular school attendance may either enroll in Lemoore’s online program or enroll in Independent Study courses. The increased workload related to those programs could necessitate Jamison High School teachers serving those students in the afternoons.

Of course, the opening of California’s schools could be delayed due to the growing number of COVID-19 cases surging in California in recent weeks, with record-breaking daily totals. As of July 11, over 7,000 Californians have died due to the virus, and 320,000 of the state’s residents have been infected.

On Monday, California Governor Gavin Newsom, in response to a growing coronavirus outbreak, ordered shopping malls, gyms, indoor church worship, and nail salons to shut down again, effective Monday, July 13. All California counties are now required to close restaurants for indoor dining, wineries, theaters, zoos, museums, card rooms bars, and family entertainment centers.