SAN DIEGO – San Diego County school districts are preparing to reopen this fall with options for students varying between regular in-person learning and online-only with some administrators and parents preparing for a hybrid model of both.
A county health order issued Monday allows public, private and charter schools to hold sessions on campus if they’re willing to comply with state reopening guidelines, including posting in public a detailed reopening plan. Part of reopening means enforcing social distancing in a school setting — which some admit is a significant hurdle.
“All of our schools are at maximum capacity, so the requirement of 6 feet is difficult,” Poway United Superintendent Marian Kim-Phelps said. “It would require us to double the size of enrollment if everyone were to return.”
A recent survey of Poway United parents found 59% of families would like students to return full-time in the fall and 41% of families prefer either a blended or fully virtual learning option.
But the hybrid model probably is not feasible in Poway, Kim-Phelps said.
“How do you determine which teachers teach where and when and what parts of the day?” she said, adding that managing a hybrid schedule would require the district to spend twice as much money “because you would need almost two teachers for every class.”
Officials at Sweetwater Union High School District say they have been meeting with teachers and parents to determine which avenues work best for their community. Sweetwater spokesman Manuel Rubio said the district is set to go back in early August, but added there’s pressure due to the severity of COVID-19.
“Unfortunately, the highest number of cases are here in the county of San Diego are here in South County,” Rubio said.
When it comes to learning, however, Rubio said the biggest concern is for those who are distance learning.
“(A) challenge for everybody is making sure if we do proceed in the distance learning piece: is everybody connected?” he said. “Do they have the proper equipment and do they have a laptop and do they have Wi-Fi?”