North County district families rally for return to campus

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SAN MARCOS, Calif. — San Marcos Unified School District families rallied Monday outside district headquarters to call for school leaders to consider more in-person learning options for students.

The district, which began its year Aug. 18, welcomes some students in pre-K, kindergarten and first grade back to campus Tuesday on a four-day-a-week schedule. Other elementary grades in the district will return on a rolling basis through November with those students expected to be on campus twice a week.

But under current plans, middle and high school students will have to wait to return until January.

That’s left some parents feeling frustrated. Some like Aurora Guel argue communication and transparency on the district’s reopening plan has left much to be desired.

She joined others lining the sidewalk with signs in a push for an expanded in-person learning model.

“Our kids are really struggling with distance learning,” she said.

Similar rallies have been taking place for weeks in San Diego County as the lingering coronavirus pandemic has kept most students primarily in distance learning formats. Last week, families at Carlsbad Unified made some of the same claims as San Marcos as elementary students there are in classrooms two half-days per week while students in middle school and above will remain away at least through January.

There’s been a like-minded push among some parents at San Diego Unified, the state’s second largest district, which started bringing some of its most vulnerable students back to classrooms this month in just the first phase of its reopening plan.

In San Marcos, parents there say they just want to be heard.

“We feel like the parents who want their kids to go back to school really haven’t had their voices heard,” Howarth said, “and we really want them to know how important it is to us.”

On Tuesday, the district’s board is expected further discuss its reopening plans as well as holding a vote on a new interim superintendent. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m.

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