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Fruitvale plans to switch to all-day elementary classes with new social distancing guidelines in place

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Fruitvale School District announced that it plans to switch its elementary students to a more traditional school day in response to new social distancing guidelines rolled out by the state over the weekend.

Superintendent Leslie Garrison wrote in a letter to parents that the district plans to offer 5-day a week, full-day in-person instruction for its elementary students. Currently, the district splits its students into morning and afternoon sections. 

Fruitvale plans to bring students up to second grade back to a full-day schedule on April 12. It plans to return students third through sixth grade on April 19. 

Garrison attributed the change to new social distancing requirements that came out from the California Department of Public Health over the weekend. Previously, the department had required 6 feet between students but that distance shrank to 3 feet, when the CDC came out with new guidelines.

Shrinking the circumference of a student's bubble 3 feet has massive implications for the layout of classrooms. It allows the number of student desks in a classroom to more closely resemble a pre-pandemic classroom. But it's not quite there — in her letter, Garrison noted that space is still limited. 

Garrison also said that she's making the change because of the declining rates of COVID-19 in the community.  

"Additionally, our Kern County Covid rates continue to improve, providing more flexibility for schools and our community," she wrote.

Currently, Fruitvale Junior High School students are in a homeroom model where those who have returned to school spend their entire days in their homeroom classes.

But Garrison plans to return students to a traditional schedule with changing classes, tentatively set for April 26 when she anticipates the county sliding into the less restrictive orange tier. She said families will be contacted when that day arrives.