City schools work with UCSD experts on guidelines for resuming in-person classes

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SAN DIEGO — During a virtual school board meeting Monday, the trustees of the San Diego Unified School District made it clear students will not be getting back in the classroom for in-person learning anytime soon. 

Board members said they are working with experts at the University of California, San Diego to develop new standards for reopening schools that are stricter than state and county guidelines. The rate of viral spread will guide the way, they said.  

“We’re going to continue to move forward in a safe way and let science lead the way,” said Superintendent Dr. Cindy Marten.

Dr. Howard Tara, UCSD professor and consulting pediatrician for the San Diego Unified School District, oversaw the expert panel that came up with the guidelines.

“The rate [of new virus cases] has to be under 100 and consistently for 14 days,” Tara explained. “Also, community outbreaks need to be under seven. We are at 34, so that affects going to school.” 

Reopening depends on improved public health conditions, wearing masks, proper ventilation on campus, social distancing and protections for students and teachers like various kinds of personal protective equipment, Tara said.

Since the conditions necessary for in-class learning don’t exist in San Diego yet, the district plans on starting the school year with distance learning son August 31. 

“It’s nerve-racking, and I obviously wouldn’t want to put others at risk or put anybody else in danger,” said 16-year-old Mackenzie Connor, the junior class president at University City High School. Connor said that most of her classmates really want to return to school, but they would rather be safe than sorry.

“I know a lot of students are disappointed. You want to see your friends and you want the in person experience of high school,” Connor told FOX 5. “I think it’s a safer as planned, as far as online goes, until things seem a little smoother and numbers go down a bit.” 

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