CARLSBAD, Calif. – The Carlsbad Unified School District once again considered whether students should return for in-person learning in their Wednesday evening board meeting — a fiercely debated issue across the county.
Most recently in the district, some elementary students started to go on campus for two half-days each week, while middle and high school level students remain full-time distance-learning. The board was set to reconsider options for the higher grade levels in January.
Dozens called in to the virtual district board meeting Wednesday, with comments ranging from applauding the board for its caution to criticism of the board for not offering more families the option to return.
The district also recently surveyed families, asking who would be in favor of their students returning to school for full days, five days a week before January — even if the distance between students is not always six feet. Fifty-four percent of elementary families responded “yes,” 48% of middle school and 50% of high school families.
The district reported more than 4,500 parents responded to that survey, demonstrating the district is still pretty split down the middle.
Parents and administrators have faced an evolving and at-times conflicting set of recommendations from experts and public officials about when and how to reopen campuses.
The Centers for Disease Control has said some schools can bring kids back on campus safely, citing lower reported case and death rates among children. However, the agency only recommends opening in areas where there is not significant community spread of the virus, and where schools can be certain that precautions, including social distancing, face coverings and limiting activities, will be followed.
In California, counties must be in the state’s “red tier” for two weeks in order for campuses to be allowed to reopen. But the decision ultimately falls to individual districts to determine if and when to open.
In the end Wednesday, the board discussed options late into the evening hours but decided to postpone any official updates on in-person learning details or timelines.
They did spend a lot of time discussing mitigation strategies, however, including options such as symptom screening, facial coverings, hand washing and sanitizing, physical distancing, keeping kids in the same groups all day, reducing class sizes, plexiglass or other barriers, and ventilation or filtration systems.
Administrators say they are hoping to implement as many strategies as possible when considering bringing more students back on campus.