Coronavirus: Distance learning in place as Vacaville students, teachers begin new year

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For the fifth year in a row, Orchard Elementary School teacher Jaxie Murray greeted her new class of kindergarteners, sang songs with them and had them do activities.

The difference this year is that she had to do all of that through her computer screen.

Vacaville Unified School District students returned Monday for the 2020-21 school year, a traditional rite of passage that serves as a new start for students each year. This year took that concept to another level. Because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Vacaville campuses remain closed for the time being, but students continue to attend classes through distance learning. By order of Gov. Gavin Newsom, schools in counties on the state’s watchlist for COVID-19 cases must start the year with distance learning and remain in the model until the county has been off the watchlist for 14 consecutive days.

Solano County is on the state’s watchlist, so VUSD students began the year by logging onto Zoom and receiving instruction from their teachers.

Murray said she was nervous leading up to the start of the year, but after meeting with her students and their parents, she felt more confident.

“It’s definitely a learning curve for everyone,” she said. “I feel very fortunate because leading up to today, I’ve had contact with a lot of my parents through email, and they’ve all been really positive in their messages back and forth…I feel like I’m in a good place with the families.”

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