Written by Nicholas Vetrisek
Saint Augustine High School and seven different families are suing Gov. Gavin Newsom over reopening schools in the fall. The suit is in response to the governor’s recent executive orders preventing schools from reopening if their county is on the state’s COVID-19 watchlist.
“At Saints, we don’t believe remote learning is sufficient to provide a quality education our students are entitled to and our families have come to expect,” said Saint Augustine Principal James Horne. “We are confident we can open our school safely, consistent with CDC and San Diego County health guidance.”
Saint Augustine safely held summer school and athletic training for more than 400 students in recent months. School officials say that they implemented rigorous safety procedures, such as having regularly sanitized surfaces and requiring face masks, as well as social distancing for students. As a result, the school reported zero new cases of COVID-19.
Schools that have no cases and can implement a safe environment for students should not be forced to close by a blanket order from the governor. Saint Augustine High School has clearly shown that it can handle reopening safely, and surely there are many other schools that can do so as well.
Much like other counties around the state, an ostensibly large number of coronavirus infections in some areas of San Diego County is not representative of the county as a whole. Dense areas like Downtown San Diego likely make up more than half of COVID-19 cases, while places like Ramona and Alpine have been statistically insignificant in terms of cases and deaths.
As such, schools like Saint Augustine should not be penalized because reopening may significantly affect densely populated public schools in urban areas. In other words, schools that can handle reopening should be allowed to do so, regardless of the status of the county or state.