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Education

San Diego County School Districts Taking Different Approaches On Reopening

Students are shown leaving the Hoover High School campus on May 31, 2018.
Megan Wood
Students are shown leaving the Hoover High School campus on May 31, 2018.

While the national debate continues over whether students should return to school campuses while the pandemic rages, San Diego County districts are making their decisions.

With COVID-19 infections surging, the San Diego Unified and Los Angeles Unified School Districts this week announced plans to begin the school year online. Some other San Diego County districts quickly followed suit. Others, however, are still planning on bringing students back to campuses.

San Diego County School Districts Taking Different Approaches On Reopening
Listen to this story by Joe Hong.

San Diego County School Districts Navigate Reopening Campuses

“We’ve ensured we’ve ordered all the PPE and disinfectants necessary. We have staff going through training,” said Marian Kim-Phelps, superintendent of Poway Unified School District. “There’s a lot of things to take into consideration that we’re working really hard to make sure that we do.”

Poway Unified plans to offer in-person, online and hybrid options for instruction. The district has installed plexiglass barriers and new ventilation filters at all of its schools. Kim-Phelps said the district made its decision to reopen its campuses after getting input from the community.

“This is what our students need and this is what our community’s asking for,” she said. “I think every district needs to react and be prepared to serve the children they’re responsible to serve.”

RELATED: San Diego Unified Will Keep Campuses Closed When School Starts Aug. 31

San Marcos Unified, also in North County, is planning on offering in-person learning in the fall. Oceanside Unified and Vista Unified are considering opening campuses. Spokespeople for the district said they will have a clearer idea after their school board meetings next week. In the East County, Cajon Valley Union School District and the Santee School District are planning on reopening campuses.

Large districts in South County are taking a different approach. Chula Vista Elementary School District will start its school year with online-only instruction. Sweetwater Union High School District, which serves many of the same neighborhoods as Chula Vista Elementary, is also planning to go fully online in the Fall.

Chula Vista Superintendent Francisco Escobedo said he’s not committing to any timeline for reopening school sites, but he said a significant drop in infection rates and increased testing capacity are crucial for a safe return to campuses.

“I would hope it’s the second or third week, but it’s hard,” he said. “I can’t pinpoint a time frame until the indicators tell me it’s time to start coming back.”