Solana Beach sixth graders return to school four days a week

Solana Ranch sixth graders returned to four days a week school on Feb. 8.

Plan is for grades K-6 to be back four days by March 1


Solana Beach School District celebrated another first day of school as all sixth graders were welcomed back to four days a week in-person instruction on Feb. 8, moving out of a hybrid model that had students online two days a week. Since the fall, district parents have been pushing for more in-school days as online learning has been a struggle mentally, emotionally and academically for many students.

To bring back the larger 4-6 grade classes in the district, some classrooms have been extended into secondary learning spaces in order to accommodate all students while maintaining distancing and stable groupings per California Department of Public Health guidelines.

“We are so thankful for all the efforts of our teachers and staff who have worked tirelessly throughout this year,” said Solana Santa Fe School Principal Matt Frumovitz in his message to families. “We are also incredibly appreciative of you, our families, who have shown patience, understanding and perspective as we have progressed through the year.”

“We feel so lucky to have our students returning to campus.”

A sixth grade classroom at Solana Ranch.

On Feb. 11, the SBSD board approved an additional memorandum of understanding between the two teachers unions and the district, memorializing the phasing in of more students in a pandemic environment and a collaborative relationship with the teachers.

Solana Beach Teachers Association President Jesse Mitchell thanked the negotiating teams for their work to support the further reopening.

“Through current MOU language they found ways to recognize the amount of work flexibility it has taken to get students back on site more days and to ensure safety is maintained. It amazes me what our teachers are adapting to with each change and how they continue to provide the highest quality instruction with a smile,” Mitchell said. “We love being with our students both on site and online, that remains a constant in these crazy times.”

The agreement includes additional personnel to support supervision and stipends of $180 to $420 for teachers who are required to move or expand their classroom.

As both SBSD board President Vicki King and Superintendent Jodie Brentlinger said, the agreement was a result of many hours of discussions, innovative thinking and focusing on doing what’s best for kids. SBSD Vice President Debra Schade made the motion to approve the new agreement, “with an extreme amount of gratitude to our teachers”.

The district will have its two last “first days” in the coming weeks as fifth graders return four days a week on Feb. 22 and fourth graders on March 1.

Brentlinger said as the district moves more kids back more days a week, it will take everyone working together to follow safety protocols in and out of school to ensure they can keep schools open, without pivoting more classrooms to online: “We don’t want to get through just the next couple weeks, we are shooting for June 11,” she said of the end of this unprecedented 2020-21 school year.

The district is planning now to bring students back five days a week in the fall, while maintaining an online model to provide choice for families.