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SD Unified, SDSU Taking Baby Steps Toward In-Person Learning

The San Diego Unified School District headquarters is shown on March 19, 2020.
Zoë Meyers
The San Diego Unified School District headquarters is shown on March 19, 2020.

With October upon us, the San Diego Unified School District and San Diego State University are slowly opening their doors to students.

San Diego Unified, the county’s largest school district, will bring 12,000 high-needs students back to campuses starting Oct. 13. During this first phase of reopening, teachers will assess how much students have fallen behind, and they’ll work to mitigate the growing achievement gap exacerbated by the pandemic.

SD Unified, SDSU Taking Baby Steps Toward In-Person Learning
Listen to this story by Joe Hong.

The 12,000 students will include students receiving special education services, experiencing homelessness or falling behind academically. Students will be able to meet with teachers by appointment.

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

“Appointments can look different,” said San Diego Unified School board member Richard Barrera. “We can make an appointment for you to come in for an hour and have an assessment, or it could be that we want to develop a schedule with the student where they’re essentially in class all day everyday.”

The issue of reopening campuses polarized San Diego Unified parents. In past weeks, some parents have criticized the district for not setting a date for resuming in-person learning. Other parents have argued against what they call a rushed reopening, expressing willingness to continue distance learning until COVID-19 infection rates drop.

Barrera said in the next phase of reopening, the district hopes to reopen all elementary schools and welcome back high-needs middle and high school students. The district has not yet set a date for the second phase. Barrera said it would depend on infection rates in the county as well as the success of the first phase.

RELATED: SDSU Ramps Up Testing, Makes Tests Mandatory For Students Living On Campus

“We need to keep our students and staff safe,” he said. “We’re not seeing any sign that the virus is going away any time soon.”

San Diego State University also announced Tuesday that a small number of in-person classes would resume starting Monday, Oct. 12. The university moved all courses online after COVID case numbers soared among students during the first weeks of the semester.

The courses moving back to in-person include mostly labs and other hands-on classes. The university also announced it would require testing every 14-days for the approximately 2,100 students participating in these classes. So far, more than 1,000 SDSU students have tested positive for COVID-19.

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