Written by Ainsley Jackman
Last week, the official announcement was made that all K-12 schools in San Diego County will be allowed to open in-person beginning Tuesday, September 1. To do so, however, schools must implement an approved reopening plan with safety measures that comply with the state criteria: things like mandatory masks, some social distancing, and health checks.
Schools would be allowed to remain open even if the county’s case rate does rise to above 100 per 100,000 residents—although the current trajectory makes this unlikely—and is placed back on the state watch list. Experts say that only a very dramatic spike in cases would trigger schools to return to online-only.
In a statement released by the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE), it was noted that just because schools are allowed to open in-person doesn’t mean they will. In fact, it looks like very few will actually reopen immediately.
“Once the state public health requirements are met, each of the 42 districts and more than 300 charter and private schools is responsible for developing and implementing their own reopening plan,” the SDCOE statement reads. “Some schools, like those that have applied for waivers to reopen early, may be ready for in-person learning. Other schools have plans for a hybrid model or only distance learning for the semester.”
As the statement references, several school districts have already announced plans to stay online-only for the entire first semester, although some of those plans may be up in the air. Many schools have also put off the beginning of the semester to give teachers time to adjust to the online format—a delay that may be repeated to allow those same teachers to reset their curriculum for in-person or hybrid learning. Meanwhile, some private, public, and charter schools already received waivers that—although now unnecessary—have prepared them to return to school quickly and safely.
Although individual situations are mixed, there’s little doubt that San Diegans have let out a collective sigh of relief that their children may not be stuck in online school for as long as originally thought.