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MCOE Education Spotlight: North Valley educators prepare for new semester amid Omicron surge

ABC 30 Fresno logo ABC 30 Fresno 1/14/2022 KFSN
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In ABC30's segment, Education Spotlight, Action News Anchor Landon Burke will talk with Merced County Office of Education (MCOE) officials about some of the biggest topics in education.

As local schools welcome students back for a new semester, there's still a lot of uncertainty about the months ahead.

Landon Burke checked in with the Merced County Office of Education Superintendent Dr. Steve Tietjen to see how North Valley educators are doing.

Landon: First of all, Dr. Tietjen, it's been a little while. Can you tell us what's new with the districts?

Dr. Steve Tietjen: Well, good morning. What's going on right now, of course, we're all focused on getting kids back in school after the holiday and keeping them safe. The big lift over the past week was to make sure that every district had a good number of tests distributed to children and families to make sure that anytime there's a symptom parents are worried about, we want to have the kids get tested so the parents know what they're dealing with. And if it's not COVID to maybe step it down a little bit, take a deep breath and realize it's OK. If it is COVID, of course we all kind of worry, we've been focused on symptoms for last year and a half, almost two years now. Everyone's hoping that with this Omicron it's much milder, the kind of virus strain and its effects, and so far, that seems to be what we're seeing. We've had a lot of spread over the last couple of weeks. Of course, we've got all these tests out, so the number of kids testing is high, and the number of cases is probably higher than we've seen since a year ago, in July, when we had the first big surge. So I think everybody's focused right now on getting through the next two weeks. We have a lot of staff out too, and so a lot of school districts have to juggle things a little bit to have teachers cover multiple classrooms. It's not the best situation, but it's keeping kids in-person instruction. We believe that that's one of the most important things to maintain during these really difficult January days.

Landon: So as we progress into the second semester of the school year, what do you want the MCOE community, like teachers and staff, to keep in mind? What do you want folks to remember

Dr. Tietjen: I really want folks to remember that this too shall pass. That if we take good care of ourselves and pay attention to the mitigation efforts, wear our masks when we're out. Wear our masks at school in the classroom. When you're outside and take them off, give yourself some distance and social distance so that you are not breathing everybody's air and really, make sure you continue to follow those simple guidelines. They're not really hard to follow. We should follow those guidelines. Then if you do have symptoms, get yourself tested, and stay home if it's COVID. And, you know, it's always been if you've got a fever, stay home. So the flu is going around too right now. So you got a fever, stay home. You know, we've got probably the most challenging week. We're probably right in the middle of it. And let's make sure that we get through them this week and next week, and then I believe if you've watched other areas, we got a spike on the rise, then it's dropped pretty rapidly. That's what we're looking forward to in late January early February. So everybody hang in there and stay safe.

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