Elementary students in Carlsbad to return to campuses full time starting in January

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CARLSBAD, Calif. – Elementary students in the Carlsbad Unified School District will return to full-time in-person classes beginning Jan. 5 after a vote Wednesday by the district’s board.

The board voted 4-1 to approve the the five-day model for students at the elementary grade level. Only Trustee Kathy Rallings dissented in the vote to move Carlsbad Unified to Phase 3 of its plan for students to return to elementary school campuses.

In October, the board approved a plan — also on a 4-1 vote — for middle and high school students to return to in-person learning on the same date in a two-day-a-week model to start.

Carlsbad families have been rallying for such a decision for several months, but public comment Wednesday showed there’s not a consensus on the right time for in-person instruction to return.

“If the district feels they need additional time to prepare to return students to the multimillion dollar campuses funded by our property taxes, we cannot extend forbearance of the use of our private property,” parent Sharon McKeeman said.

Last month, the board approved the purchase and installation of new filters for classrooms in need, secured an app for symptom monitoring and increased its budget for cleaning and custodial staff. Plexiglass barriers also will be installed for teachers requesting them.

But some, including Rallings, still have some reservations.

“I’ve been very much in favor of opening for five day a week model over many, many months and you can check the minutes to see that,” she said. “However, I am not in favor of sacrificing the safety of our staff or our students in the process.”

Rallings added, “Trust me, I have many, many sleepless nights around this topic. I could not live with myself if I voted in favor of this plan and a family member or loved one in this district ended up on a ventilator.”

Some also were concerned about the current timeline with the Thanksgiving holiday approaching.

“The reality is families will be traveling and attending gatherings with family and friends over Thanksgiving and the holidays in December,” one caller said. “With all of this in mind, it is imperative that the board revise the plan to return to campus on Jan. 5 for both elementary and secondary schools.”

Full-time virtual learning will continue to be an option for all families.

The district plans to launch a survey in the coming days to see how many families want to continue virtual learning or have their students back on campus to plan accordingly.

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