San Diego Schools Plans Very ‘Fluid’

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San Diego Schools Plans Very ‘Fluid’

Students at Lafayette Elementary School watch an instructional video about colors during the first day of San Diego Unified’s reopening plan at elementary schools. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

This post originally appeared in the March 11 Morning Report. Get the Morning Report delivered to your inbox.

San Diego Unified School District and its teachers union, the San Diego Education Association, will go back to the bargaining table Thursday to try to hash out what the last few weeks of school will look like and how much time on campus kids can have.

The union had proposed a return plan where elementary school students would still do distance learning at home in the mornings but twice a week could come in to be with their teachers for two hours – a total of four hours per week.

The district countered with two hours per day and at least four days a week.

A top priority of the union is to have all the students remain with their classes they’ve been online with this academic year.

“At this point in the school year, separating the students/classes into online or in-person is not an option,” said SDEA President Kisha Borden in an email. “It is our hope that the District offers a wide range of instructional programs to families in the fall that do not require teachers to divide their attention between online and in-person students.”

The plans for middle and high school students are also uncertain. The district and union agree the students will somehow have to stay in groups that don’t change during the day.

“It is a very fluid situation and we may have a different proposal by tomorrow when we meet with the District,” Borden wrote.

  • One slide in a Tuesday presentation to the San Diego Unified School Board explained why a school reopening in April would be hybrid appeared to set a standard for full reopening that would be hard to meet in September, too. “Until most students are vaccinated, or other public health indicators make students’ proximity safe, halving classroom density is a practical method to invite all students back to school,” the slide read. Vaccines are not yet approved for people under 16, and aren’t expected to be by the start of the new school year, and the presentation did not specify which other public health indicators could make full classrooms safe.

But Dr. Howard Taras, a pediatrician at UC San Diego Health, told us Wednesday that the slide should not be construed to indicate anything about school next year.

“What I hoped to get across is that there are likely to be some public health factors that would allow schools to fully reopen safely (i.e., full classrooms) before all students have access to the vaccine,” he said.

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