Local districts respond to San Diego Unified’s plans for online-only school

A message to families at the closed Ashley Falls School in Carmel Valley.
(Karen Billing)

On July 13, the two largest school districts in the state, San Diego and Los Angeles Unified, announced they would move to a fully online format to start the school year next month. On the same day, Governor Gavin Newsom announced roll-backs of reopening indoor operations due to COVID-19 cases continuing to spread at “alarming rates.”

Local school districts Solana Beach, Del Mar and San Dieguito sent messages to families on July 14 that they have not yet made decisions but are continuing to plan for students to return in August.

The message from SBSD Superintendent Jodee Brentlinger said the district is continuing reopening planning amongst “constantly changing health orders and often conflicting messages.” She stated that the board, district leadership and staff are committed to reopening schools while maximizing the safety and health of students and staff, and providing high-quality instruction.

“As best as we can, we are trying to anticipate the many scenarios that could occur during the school year, from the need to close classrooms to possible campus closures due to infection, or, more hopefully, successfully relaxing pandemic restrictions,” Brentlinger said.

Each SBSD school site held reopening meetings this week to share information about the district’s two instructional learning models for the upcoming school year: Onsite Scholars and Online Scholars. The following week, July 20-24, all parents and guardians will be asked to commit to one of the learning options for the year.

According to DMUSD Superintendent Holly McClurg, the district is also committed to developing plans to resume in-person instruction at all schools at the start of the school year on Aug. 24.

“We are doing everything we can so that all students have the opportunity to safely resume in-person learning, and so that we will have the safe return of students, teachers, and staff to our schools,” McClurg said.

The district is also continuing preparations for Launch, their new distance learning program option. In a survey of parents in June, 90% preferred in-person learning and 10% distance learning. Families will be expected to make their final choice by the first week of August.

“Here in SDUHSD, we’ve not yet made a decision about the reopening of our schools,” SDUHSD Superintendent Robert Haley wrote in his message to families. “We are developing learning models for next year that will align with all of the possible pandemic scenarios we could find our district in, ranging from on-campus, in-class instruction to the maximum extent possible...to full-time distance learning.”

Haley said all planning is grounded in what is “actually viable” for the district’s 10 schools, enrollment projections, facility resources, staffing availability, budget and, most importantly, the safety of students and staff.

According to Haley, the district plans to continue to survey the school community, making sure they are addressing student and parent concerns as they adjust plans.