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San Dieguito expands to two days a week of in-person school

Students in a classroom at Carmel Valley Middle School on the first day return to school.
Students in a classroom at Carmel Valley Middle School on the first day return to school.
(Miquel Jacobs)

The San Dieguito Union High School District expanded its reopening from one to two days a week starting March 22. For many students, returning to school on March 16 was their first time back on campus this school year and for some freshman and seventh graders, their first day at their new school.

“As more students are starting to come back on campus, it is starting to feel like a normal campus,” said Zander Samarasinghe, the student board representative for Torrey Pines High School at the SDUHSD board’s March 18 meeting.

The district was able to allow students who wanted to return to come back to school starting on March 16 due to the judge’s ruling in the Parent Association lawsuit against the state’s reopening rules but San Dieguito had planned to expand reopening as soon as the county went into the red tier for five days—the county moved into the red tier on March 17.

Students who have selected in-person learning are able to attend classes in-person two consecutive days per week and learn from home three days per week.

Principal Mary Anne Nuskin
Principal Mary Anne Nuskin helps a student perform their COVID symptom check-in on the first day return to school at Pacific Trails Middle School.
(Miquel Jacobs)

Cohorts are grouped by last names and students attend school on their assigned days. Some teachers have short-term accommodations that allow them to teach from home. Those classrooms with teachers at home have a substitute teacher in the physical classroom for supervision.

“I want to thank our staff for their hard work this year,” SDUHSD President Mo Muir said in a statement at the March 18 board meeting. “They have worked to create something that has never been done before, and have done an amazing job with this transition.”

SDUHSD board members and Superintendent Robert Haley were on campuses to help welcome students back to school last week. The board members spoke about seeing hope, happy tears and excitement among the students. SDUHSD Trustee Michael Allman said he received several thank you texts from parents including one who said her son’s smile was “so big it reached beyond his mask”.

“We are going to make a big difference in a lot of children’s lives,” Allman said of the board’s direction to expand to two days a week.

During public comment, some parents requested a return to full time in-person learning five days a week immediately and for a commitment for all students to be in-person with a full-time schedule for the 2021-2022 school year. Other parents encouraged the district not to rush expanding reopening but continue taking a measured approach that keeps all students and staff safe.

The board is scheduled to discuss the plans for the rest of the school year as well as the coming school year at a special meeting on March 24 (after press time for this edition).

Students check-in with permission slips at Torrey Pines High School on the first day return to school.
Students check-in with permission slips at Torrey Pines High School on the first day return to school.

(Miquel Jacobs)

On-campus learners are not required to come to campus on their designated day and have the option to learn from home. At Canyon Crest Academy for the week of March 15-19, there were 305 students doing in-person school each day and 2,164 in distance learning. At Torrey Pines, there were 563 students on campus each day and 2,164 in distance learning.

At the middle school level, Carmel Valley Middle had 347 students in person and 541 in distance learning, Pacific Trails had 209 students on campus and 676 at home and Earl Warren had a fairly even split with 283 returning in person and 266 in distance learning.

“As each day goes by and families become more comfortable and/or are more knowledgeable about the option to return, numbers do tend to trend upwards on a weekly basis,” said Miquel Jacobs, the district’s communications coordinator.

Students engage in an outdoor classroom on the first day return to school at Diegueno Middle School.
Students engage in an outdoor classroom on the first day return to school at Diegueno Middle School.

(Miquel Jacobs)


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