By Miriam Raftery
June 17, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – After the state of California released a 62-page “Stronger Together” guideline for schools to reopen, the County Office of Education released its own extensive COVID-19 recovery and reopening plan for the nearly 800 public and 230 private schools in our region.
However, Dr. Paul Gothold, County Superintendent of Schools, cautions, “It’s important to note that reopening campuses not only will require a great deal of planning and preparation, but also funding for expenses that would not have been needed before the pandemic.”
Reopening schools pose challenges for educators at all levels, from primary grades through colleges and universities.
Distance learning will likely remain an option this fall for parents and students uncomfortable with in-school instruction. Another option many districts are considering is a blended model, with some in-school and some virtual online instruction. Staggered schedules and other variations on standard school schedule are also in the mix.
In-school instruction will look different than in the pre-COVID-19 era, with masks and social distancing requirements as well as changes to everything from cafeterias to school buses to help protect the safety of students.
Districts’ approaches vary widely. The Grossmont Union High School District has sent out a survey asking parents their views on distance learning vs. in-classroom instruction.
The La Mesa Spring Valley district, in a letter to parents from Superintendent David Feliciano, indicates that 20% of parents surveyed said they were uncomfortable with students returning to school full-time in the fall and prefer a blended or online-only option. “Even if we are able to bring all students back on campus in August, we are certain we will be able to offer blended learning and 100% online learning as options for families that have concerns about returning to campus,” Feliciano assures parents.
The Alpine Union School District, in a letter to parents, advises, “The options for students in the Alpine Union School District for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year include returning to school, distance learning, a hybrid option, and a homeschool option. The goal of providing multiple ways for students to learn is to allow families to make the decision that will work best for them, without having to sacrifice their kid’s educational needs.”
San Diego State University has announced it will hold over 200 in-person classes this fall, but also offer virtual classes. Up to 3,500 students will be able to live on campus, about 54% of capacity.
The University of California San Diego is planning a phased reopening and will launch a special website later this month with details, according to the UCSD coronavirus updates webpage.
Miriam Raftery, editor and founder of East County Magazine, has over 35 years of journalism experience. She has won more than 350 journalism awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, San Diego Press Club, and the American Society of Journalists & Authors. Her honors include the Sol Price Award for responsible journalism and three James Julian awards for public interest reporting from SPJ’s San Diego chapter. She has received top honors for investigative journalism, multicultural reporting, coverage of immigrant and refugee issues, politics, health, breaking news and more. Thousands of her articles have appeared in national and regional publications.
East County Magazine gratefully thanks the Facebook Journalism Project for support through its COVID-19 Local News Relief Fund Grant Program to help make this reporting possible. #FacebookJournalismProject.
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