North County parents rally to reopen schools

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ENCINITAS, Calif. – A group of parents rallied Thursday in Encinitas to call for their children to be able to return to campuses in the San Dieguito Union High School District.

The district began its year Aug. 25 in a distance learning format along with most of the area’s schools amid the ongoing pandemic. In July, district leaders opted to keep students distance learning through the end of its first instructional quarter on Oct. 28.

But with some districts charting courses back to campus and as patience with technology has waned, San Dieguito Union parents are pushing for a full reopening plan.

“There’s no plan to get the general population of students back on campus so we’re just hoping that they are at least working on a plan to hopefully get these kids back safely,” parent Mandy Davies said.

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.

But Davies, who has three children in the district, including son Brock Davies, worries that prolonged distance learning is harmful to their education.

“It’s a lot harder to navigate everything,” Brock Davies said. “You get thrown out of Zoom calls sometimes. Communication’s not working. A lot harder to get assignments turned in. Just very chaotic and hectic.”

In a statement, the district said when it’s allowed to bring students back in the first quarter, it still will remain in the distance learning model. The district plans to prioritize “students who receive services through Special Education, students learning English, students with inadequate learning environments, and then all other students.”

Plans have not yet been disclosed about the district’s second quarter.

“I mean, there is some risk, but I also feel there is some risk for keeping kids home for an entire year you know just doing distance learning,” Mandy Davies said. “I feel like we’re trading one risk for another myriad of risks.”

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