Students hoping to return to in-person learning for the 2020-2021 school year have found their aspirations looking bleaker and bleaker by the day. San Diego Unified School District officials recently announced that their timeline for reopening in-person classes was looking like “months, not weeks” away from coming to fruition.
In consultation with UCSD experts, the district anticipates adopting strict new standards to protect students, staff, and the community from the spread of COVID-19 when schools resume in-person.
Conditions for reopening local schools will be even stricter than the already draconian state standards, which require a seven-day testing positivity rate of less than 8%. The SDUSD panel additionally hopes to add contact tracing metrics and other factors that would be considered “health triggers.” When reopening does happen, it will proceed in phases and rely heavily on students and teachers complying with protective measures such as wearing face masks, proper ventilation, and strict social distancing.
Though this announcement comes as a huge disappointment to parents and students hoping to return to school safely as soon as possible, it’s a small solace to know that SDUSD is proceeding with an abundance of caution.
According to Dr. Howard Taras, a UCSD professor and consulting pediatrician for San Diego Unified, the district would not consider reopening campuses for in-person learning until San Diego County reports fewer than seven community outbreaks of COVID-19 in the previous week, and there being fewer than 100 cases per 100,000 people over the previous two weeks. The district has purchased more than $11 million in personal protective equipment, receiving 200,000 masks in child and adult sizes from the state, along with 14,000 bottles of hand sanitizer.
Hopefully, these guidelines will remain flexible as our communities adapt and overcome, allowing for reopening sooner than months away. Our students are counting on the district to let them get back to school as soon as possible, and we can’t let them down.