Districts weigh next steps after state rejects reopening proposals

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ENCINITAS, Calif. -– The parking lot at San Dieguito Academy was full Monday but children were still missing from classrooms.

San Dieguito Union High School, Carlsbad Unified and Poway Unified school districts all planned to resume in-person instruction Monday morning. They announced late Sunday that waivers requiring approval by the state were denied.

“It is shocking,” Ginny Merrifield said. “On Sunday night, the lead of the Safe Schools for All committee in the governor’s office denied three school districts their waiver on the basis of the fact that we weren’t open sufficiently before, so we don’t have a track record to be able to open again now.”

Merrifield is executive director of the Parent Association of North County San Diego. She represents thousands of parents within the three school districts. 

“One of the first steps was to give your safe re-opening plan to the county public health official Dr. Wilma Wooten,” Merrifield said. “Dr. Wooten forwarded the signature to the state and it was our expectation all along that this was an administrative review process at the state level after approval from the highest ranking health official in the county.” 

Superintendent of San Dieguito Union High School District Robert Haley said in a statement: “We are incredibly frustrated and angered by this arbitrary and uninformed decision, as the application had the full support of the San Diego County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten and her team after a thorough review.”

Haley said he met with the head of the Safe Schools for All team and the State Board of Education Sunday night to appeal the decision but was told the ruling was final.

“If you have a concern about this decision, you may use the Safe Schools for All portal to register it. You can contact Governor Newsom’s office as well with any questions or concerns you may have,” Haley’s statement said.

Some students came to campus Monday but per the state guidelines, they were not allowed inside classrooms.  

“They are sitting on campus today in the cold learning outside with warm classrooms and their teachers sitting alone in their classrooms. And we can’t bring the kids in,” San Dieguito Union High School District trustee Michael Allman said.

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