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Stories by Joe Hong

A student participating in a distance learning ...

San Diego Unified Reports Lower Grades, Higher Absenteeism During Pandemic Year

June 3
By Joe Hong

Black and Latinx students as well as English learners and students with disabilities were more likely to be chronically absent or receive a failing grade during the 2020-21 school year.

A view of the San Diego Public Library, Sept. 9...

San Diego Public Library Starts Summer Reading Challenge

June 1
By Joe Hong

Librarians hope this year’s program can boost reading skills, especially in those students who have fallen behind this year.

Activist protest San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria's ...

Activists Gather At San Diego City Hall To Protest Mayor’s Police Budget

May 25
By Joe Hong

Protesters spoke out against a nearly $19 million increase to the police department’s budget, saying the money should go to homelessness services, better parks and supports for youth.

The outside of the Board of Education building ...

San Diego County School Officials Expect Full Return To In-Person Learning In Fall

May 24
By Joe Hong

The California Legislature is unlikely to require vaccines and state officials have yet to say whether masking and physical distancing rules will remain in place.

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Steph...

New Juvenile Diversion Initiative Aims To Keep Youth Out Of Prison Pipeline

May 20
By Joe Hong

The initiative would divert youth arrested for misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies away from the criminal justice system and into counseling and mentorship programs.

San Diego City College is pictured in this phot...

Community College Enrollment Drops During Pandemic As Students Prioritize Employment

May 19
By Joe Hong

Following a statewide trend, San Diego City College’s enrollment declined by about 15% this year.

A student at Joseph Casillas Elementary School ...

Experts Say Arts Education Should Be Emphasized As Students Return To Classrooms

May 14
By Joe Hong

Although learning loss is a concern, parents and teachers shouldn’t hyper-focus on it given the anxiety many students have about going back to in-person school.

The San Diego Unified School District Board of ...

San Diego Unified Outlines Efforts To Diversify Its Teacher And Administrator Ranks

May 12
By Joe Hong

The district hopes to close a yawning gap between the number of students who identify as people of color and the number of teachers who do the same.

The San Diego Police Department seal is seen on...

Questions Raised Over Proposed Increase In San Diego Police Budget

May 7
By Joe Hong

Some councilmembers and residents say money should be diverted from police to fund community health initiatives. Others point to increased violent crime as justification for a higher budget.

A student participating in a distance learning ...

San Diego County Sees Big Drop In English Learner Enrollment

April 30
By Joe Hong

Educators attribute the decline, which is also happening statewide, to economic factors and challenges in communication during the pandemic.

Inside of a classroom at Blossom Valley Element...

San Diego County Public Schools Saw Big Enrollment Drops Due To Pandemic

April 23
By Joe Hong

Countywide enrollment dropped by 17,000, according to state data. Local officials attribute the decline to parents who sought alternatives to distancing learning.

A computer provided by the San Diego Unified Sc...

San Diego Unified Searching For Solutions To Handle Increased Demand For In-Person Learning

April 22
By Joe Hong

In some schools, students are being put in overflow rooms because class sizes are limited due to distancing requirements agreed upon by the district and teachers union.

A man walks by a COVID-19 testing sign at UC Sa...

UC San Diego Planning Full Fall Reopening With Hopes Of Required Vaccinations

April 20
By Joe Hong

The University of California Regents have yet to decide on whether to require vaccinations of returning students and staff on UC campuses in the fall. UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep Khosla hopes the answer is yes.

San Diego's Lincoln High School is pictured in ...

Cathedral Catholic High Officials Apologize For Racist Images Targeting Lincoln High

April 15
By Joe Hong

The images were circulated by members of the Cathedral Catholic football team.

Junior Kate Chasin in front of Canyon Hills Hig...

First Day Back At School A ‘Little Weird’ For Many San Diego Unified Students

April 12
By Joe Hong

About half of the district’s approximately 100,000 students returned to campuses Monday for part-time, in-person learning.

Soccer ball at Mance Buchanon Park in Oceanside...

San Diego School Officials Say Few COVID-19 Cases Coming From Sports

April 9
By Joe Hong

Both San Diego Unified and Poway Unified School Districts have seen a small number of COVID-19 cases among student athletes, but one expert warns against complacency.

A teacher guides students through a lesson at L...

Half Of San Diego Unified Students Expected To Return To Classrooms Next Week

April 6
By Joe Hong

District officials said based on the number of students opting for in-person instruction so far, most schools are able to accommodate them for four days a week.

Cots laid out for unaccompanied migrant teens t...

San Diego County Office Of Education Will Provide Schooling For Migrant Youth

March 29
By Joe Hong

The teenage girls will be taught English and art, with a focus on self expression through writing and visual and performing arts.

The San Marcos Senior Center was transformed in...

San Diego County School Districts Detail Plans For Return To In-Person Learning

March 26
By Joe Hong

At San Diego Unified, students will be on campus either two or four days a week, depending on the number of families who want to participate in in-person instruction.

San Diego Unified School District Superintenden...

US Senators Question San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten In Confirmation Hearing

March 24
By Joe Hong

Marten is President Joe Biden’s pick for Deputy Secretary of Education. She faced questions Wednesday about her response to the pandemic.

Luis, 13, sits in his bedroom in his guardians'...

Pandemic Life: Students, Experts Reflect On A Year Of Online Education

March 19
By Joe Hong

Distance learning during the pandemic has only worsened students' achievement gap from marginalized communities and those growing up in privilege. But could there be some long-term benefits to this experience?

A man walking by the Sweetwater Union Hgh Schoo...

Sweetwater Board Votes On School Reopening Plan As North County Districts See Theirs Curtailed

March 8
By Joe Hong

Sweetwater Union High in the South Bay could soon have up to 10% of its students back on campuses, but Poway Unified and others will have to hold off on plans to bring back high schoolers.

The La Mesa-Spring Valley School District Offic...

La Mesa-Spring Valley School Board Member Faces Racist Threats And Recall

March 5
By Joe Hong

Chardá Bell-Fontenot said a reopening plan that did not require teachers to be vaccinated is akin to white supremacy. An ugly backlash followed.

COVID-19 vaccine supplies are pictured at the G...

California To Give 40% Of Vaccine Doses To Vulnerable Areas

March 4
By Associated Press, Joe Hong

California will begin setting aside 40% of all vaccine doses for the state’s most vulnerable neighborhoods in an effort to inoculate people most at risk from the coronavirus and get the state’s economy open more quickly.

The San Diego Unified School District Board of ...

The Black Student Experience In San Diego Unified Is Better, But Still Needs Improvement

Feb. 26
By Joe Hong

While the district has seen significant success in graduation and college readiness rates, suspension rates remain disproportionately high.

Four students sitting at desks 6 feet apart as ...

San Diego Unified Expands In-Person Instruction With Learning Labs

Feb. 22
By Joe Hong

Teachers are working with up to 14 students per class, prioritizing students with disabilities and those who’ve fallen behind during distance learning.

The Montgomery Middle School sign is pictured, ...

Study: Black Students Still More Likely To Face Harsh Discipline

Feb. 17
By Joe Hong

New research published Wednesday shows that disproportionate rates of suspensions and expulsions for Black students continues in San Diego Unified and across the state.

The San Diego Unified School District headquart...

New Reopening Guidelines For Schools Unveiled

Feb. 12
By Joe Hong

San Diego Unified officials signaled optimism for a partial return to campuses in the coming months while the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced updated guidance.

The Poway Unified School District's main office.

Poway Educators: Students Are Safe, Happier In First Week Of In-Person Instruction

Feb. 5
By Joe Hong

As case numbers gradually decline, the district deemed it safe to resume hybrid instruction at elementary schools. But middle and high schools will need to wait longer.

Eli Chery-Davenport, 5, plays with blocks. Jan....

Couple Alleges San Diego Unified Wrongly Denied Special Ed Services To Their Son

Feb. 4
By Joe Hong

Specialists agree that Eli Chery-Davenport is hearing impaired. But the district has thus far refused to keep him in its deaf and hard-of-hearing program, his parents say.

A man walks by a COVID-19 testing sign at UC Sa...

COVID-19 Cases Drop At UC San Diego After Post-Holiday Surge

Jan. 27
By Joe Hong

University officials plan to avoid another spike after spring break by creating incentives for students to stay on campus rather than go home during the break.

Edie Evans, a fifth-grader at San Diego Unified...

Vaccine Delays And High Case Rates Diminish Hopes For School Reopenings

Jan. 22
By Joe Hong

District and union officials in San Diego County say widespread in-person learning is unlikely even if teachers get vaccinated.

The Poway Unified School District's main office.

COVID-19 Surge, Staff Shortages Prompt Poway Unified To Delay Reopening

Jan. 15
By Joe Hong

While there have been no outbreaks on campuses, district officials said individual cases among staff have resulted in up to seven coworkers having to quarantine.

San Diego Unified School District superintenden...

San Diego Unified School District Resumes COVID-19 Testing Program With Plans To Expand

Jan. 13
By Joe Hong

The county’s largest district eventually hopes to test all 100,000 of its students every two weeks once they return to campuses.

The outside of the San Diego Unified School Dis...

Leaders From Large Urban School Districts Criticize Governor’s Plan To Reopen Elementary Schools

Jan. 8
By Joe Hong

In a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom, San Diego Unified's Cindy Marten and six other superintendents argue that the plan would disproportionately benefit wealthier districts with relatively low COVID-19 case counts.

The San Diego Unified School District Board of ...

San Diego Unified Avoids Layoffs Thanks To Federal Stimulus, But More Help Needed

Jan. 5
By Joe Hong

One education expert says federal and state governments should take this opportunity to remedy historical inequities in public education that predate the pandemic.

A still from a video of Amaurie Johnson being d...

Former La Mesa Police Officer Charged With Filing False Police Report

Jan. 4
By City News Service, Joe Hong

A former La Mesa police officer at the center of a controversial arrest of a young Black man near the Grossmont trolley station is facing a felony count of filing a false report.

A colorful pillar in City Heights identifies th...

New Program Serving City Heights Businesses And Residents Hit Hardest By Pandemic

Dec. 31, 2020
By Joe Hong

The City Heights Business Association is hoping to expand a program that has helped residents purchase food and essential supplies, while bringing much needed revenue to small businesses.

Four students sitting at desks 6 feet apart as ...

Gov. Gavin Newsom Offers Plans To Reopen In-Person Schools

Dec. 30, 2020
By Joe Hong and Don Thompson / Associated Press

He wants to start with the youngest students and promised $2 billion in state aid to promote coronavirus testing, increased ventilation of classrooms and personal protective equipment.

San Dieguito Union High School District's main ...

San Dieguito School District Board Reverses Decision To Reopen In January

Dec. 28, 2020
By Joe Hong

The 4-to-1 vote to cancel reopening plans comes after the teachers union sued the district, arguing that schools could not reopen while the county remained in the most restrictive purple tier for COVID-19 cases.

A teacher guides students through a lesson at L...

Vaccinated Teachers Won’t Mean Automatic School Reopenings In San Diego County

Dec. 18, 2020
By Joe Hong

Teachers are currently expected to be vaccinated behind frontline healthcare workers and nursing home residents.

Arianna Cubillian, 22, at her home in Manila. D...

Pandemic Profile: Making The Most Of Her College Experience Halfway Around The World

Dec. 17, 2020
By Joe Hong

Arianna Cubillian planned on staying in the Philippines for only the summer, but then the pandemic took a turn for the worse.

A student participating in a distance learning ...

English Learners Are Falling Further Behind In The Virtual Classroom

Dec. 15, 2020
By Joe Hong

Students who are not fluent in English have received D’s and F’s at significantly higher rates than their peers during distance learning.

The San Diego Unified School District headquart...

San Diego Unified Says A $155 Million Budget Shortfall Is Possible For Next Year

Dec. 10, 2020
By Joe Hong

Officials say that dire projection, while possible, is not likely given the strong chance of state and federal help.

A student participating in a distance learning ...

San Diego County Students Are Failing Classes At Higher Rates Amid Pandemic

Dec. 7, 2020
By Joe Hong

Early numbers from some large districts in the county show a jump in D's and F's during the first full semester of distance learning.

A student walks by Conrad Prebys Aztec Student ...

Applying For College: Another Ritual Upended By Pandemic

Dec. 4, 2020
By Joe Hong

Students say there's even more uncertainty in the already stressful process. And with in-person tours and campus visits cancelled, university officials must rely on virtual experiences to recruit students.

A young girl with a face mask sits at a desk at...

San Diego Unified Delays In-Person Learning Due To COVID-19 Surge

Dec. 2, 2020
By Joe Hong

Planned campus reopenings are on indefinite hold, but the district will continue offering in-person instruction to a small group of struggling students.

Shoppers at Best Buy in Mission Valley on Black...

Virus Keeps Black Friday Crowds Thin, Shoppers Shift Online

Nov. 27, 2020
By Joe Hong and Anne D'Innocenzio, Josehp Pisani and Alexandra Olson / Associated Press

After months of slumping sales and businesses toppling into bankruptcy, Black Friday is offering a small beacon of hope. But a spike in coronavirus cases is threatening the economy’s recovery from the sudden plunge in the spring.

A teacher guides students through a lesson at L...

For Teachers, Taking A Day Off During Distance Learning Comes With Big Challenges

Nov. 25, 2020
By Joe Hong

Right now, as the pandemic rages, districts are barely meeting the need for substitute teachers. The shortage could get worse if more schools open for in-person instruction.

The San Diego Unified School District headquart...

San Diego Unified Distributes Extra Meals To Students Ahead Of Holiday

Nov. 24, 2020
By Joe Hong

Since the start of the pandemic, the district has distributed more than 8 million meals to needy students.

Other stories featuring work by Joe Hong

Storm clouds over Ocean Beach, November 19, 2019.

Santa Ana Winds, Warmer Temperatures Expected In San Diego County

Jan. 6, 2020
By City News Service

Gusty winds are expected in San Diego County Monday and could prove hazardous for high-profile vehicles traveling through mountains passes, according to the National Weather Service.

National City Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis wear...

County Requires Face Covers By May 1, Concerns Rise About Mexico and COVID-19

April 24, 2020
By City News Service

The first order will allow ocean access from city beaches for the above-mentioned activities. Piers, boardwalks and parking lots are still closed to the public, and the order does not include boat ramps or watercraft. It also does not apply to state parks and beaches. It also leaves the decision of beach closures to the cities.

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