Local schools granted reopening waivers

San Diego Jewish Academy has been granted a waiver to reopen for in-person school.

San Diego County is no longer accepting waivers to reopen schools—given the success in keeping the county’s case rate down, the county anticipates all TK-12 schools will be permitted to reopen on Sept. 1 for in-person instruction if the county’s case rate remains below 100 per 100,000.

San Diego Jewish Academy, Santa Fe Christian, Notre Dame Academy and the Del Mar Union School District were among the 42 San Diego County elementary schools and school districts that were granted reopen waivers of the 95 that applied.

SDJA’s first day of on-campus instruction will be Sept. 8.

“We are very fortunate and excited to soon welcome our students back to campus,” said Zvi Weiss, head of school at SDJA. “We’ve made significant changes to campus and to classrooms to create the safest and healthiest environment possible. Our enrollment is higher than ever because families have seen that we deliver excellent education and meaningful community experiences under any circumstances.”

While 27 waivers were approved last week, Del Mar Union School District was among the batch of 12 that were approved on Aug. 24. The district plans for students to begin the first two weeks of school remotely and then reopen for in-person instruction on Sept. 8.

The Rancho Santa Fe School District was among the first to be approved and welcomed students back to campus on Aug. 24.

Other area private schools cleared to reopen include Francis Parker, The Bishop’s School and La Jolla Country Day. Every school that applied had to have a comprehensive COVID-19 prevention plan in place, checking off all the requirements for facial coverings, physical distancing, screening and sanitation.

Each school’s reopening plan details how they will keep students safe on campus—all students and staff will be required to wear facial coverings and the schools will promote healthy hygiene such as frequent handwashing. All schools have added several portable handwashing stations to their campuses—Del Mar added permanent outdoor sinks on campuses near lunch service areas and restrooms. While handwashing is preferred, there will also be sanitizing stations for students to use.

Classrooms will have physical distancing of six feet between students—Notre Dame Academy has additionally installed plexiglass shields to each student’s desk. All schools will keep students in stable cohorts and will have staggered recess and lunchtimes.

Schools have also enhanced their cleaning and sanitizing schedules—Del Mar added an extra custodian at all seven school sites. SDJA has also intensified healthy air ventilation in the campus’ indoor spaces by modifying its HVAC settings to maximize outside air flow and installing UV-C germicidal lamps in all HVAC ducting and air handlers. The school has also obtained and will be utilizing 10 portable UV-C devices for disinfecting space and surfaces in various areas of the school.

All schools are required to provide staff testing and parents will be told to screen student symptoms before their arrival on campus.

For screening, Santa Fe Christian is using the Emocha app for daily monitoring of employees and students. All students and staff will be required to use the app to log their daily temperature and symptom check prior to their arrival at school.

“Our desire is to return to campus and provide our students with a safe environment to continue their social, emotional, physical, and educational growth while also providing childcare for families so they can continue to work and help the local economy,” wrote Santa Fe Christian Head of School Rod Gilbert in the waiver application.

At all schools that have been allowed to re-open, a distance learning option must be offered for families who do not feel comfortable having students return to campus.