Poway Unified announces new start date

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POWAY, Calif. – Officials from the Poway Unified School District announced Friday the first day of classes has been pushed back to Sept. 2 with district leaders promising schools will have a different look when instruction resumes.

The district, which had been planning to resume in mid-August, will return with online-only classes amid a new set of school reopening guidelines set this month by Gov. Gavin Newsom. Under the new rules, San Diego County school districts are not allowed to resume in-person instruction until the county has been off the state’s COVID-19 watchlist for two weeks.

Several other local districts including San Diego Unified and Sweetwater Union High School District previously have announced plans do full distance learning to start the fall session.

In a July 22 letter published in the district’s 28-page reopening guidebook, Poway Unified Superintendent Marian Kim Phelps said 2020 has been “the most challenging year I have ever experienced as an educator.”

The district’s plan, Phelps said, was crafted “with a constant focus on how to best serve” students, including establishing protocols for schools when in-person instruction resumes.

“Our ultimate goal is to ensure our schools open safely and continue to provide a healthy learning environment for each and every student,” she said.

According to the guidebook, students and staff are being asked to do self-screenings from home for symptoms such as coughing and shortness of breath. Anyone with a fever of 100 degrees or higher “should not go to a school site.”

Other protocols include training staff and students on proper hand washing methods; requiring face coverings; enforcing social distancing with redesigned spaces and outdoor classes; and a more rigorous cleaning schedule using new electrostatic sprayers on every campus.

Phelps said PUSD plans on communicating regularly with families and staff regarding the district’s plans as well as the changing health and safety guidelines.

“We want our parents to be as informed as possible when making the decision that is right for their children and family,” she said.

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