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Poway Unified Pushes Ahead With Elementary Reopening Plans

The Poway Unified School District's main office.

Photo by Andi Dukleth

Above: The Poway Unified School District's main office.

Even though San Diego County is teetering on the edge of entering the highest tier for coronavirus restrictions, Poway Unified School District leaders are moving forward with plans to reopen its elementary schools in early October.

The Poway Unified school board Thursday approved a phased reopening in which nine of the district’s elementary schools will reopen on Oct. 1 and the remaining 14 will reopen on Oct. 12.

The district’s middle and high schools will remain in distance learning until further notice.

Listen to this story by Joe Hong.

RELATED: San Diego Unified Grappling With Significant Drop In Kindergarten Enrollment

At Thursday’s board meeting, Superintendent Marian Kim-Phelps addressed confusion about what would happen to the district’s plan if the county’s rate of COVID-19 infections inches higher and forces it into California’s most restrictive purple tier. Under state guidelines, counties in this tier would not be able to reopen schools if they haven’t already started in-person learning.

But because Poway Unified has started offering in-person services to small groups of students at all of its campuses, it is authorized to move forward with a more comprehensive reopening.

“Now all of our schools are considered open,” Kim-Phelps said. “Whether we move to purple or red all of our elementary schools can go ahead and proceed to reopen on our scheduled dates.”

RELATED: Some San Diego Schools May Be Affected By Return To Purple Tier

The district also presented its plan to ensure hygiene, safety and social distancing after reopening. Nonetheless, some parents raised concerns during public comment saying it was too early to reopen even elementary schools.

“I believe it's too soon, and I don’t feel comfortable with my daughter being a guinea pig for the rest of the districts as they wait and see what happens to ours,” one parent wrote to the school board.

District officials presented plans for a hybrid model for middle and high schools but did not authorize any official schedule to return students to campus.

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Photo of Joe Hong

Joe Hong
Education Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksAs an education reporter, I'm always looking for stories about learning. My favorite education stories put a student's face on bigger policy issues. I regularly sift through enrollment data, test scores and school budgets, but telling student-centered stories is my top priority.

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