San Diego Unified to continue distance learning through early 2021

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SAN DIEGO – The San Diego Unified School District will continue distance learning for most of its students through early next year, district officials announced Tuesday.

Citing the current surge of coronavirus infections in the community, the district said it’s currently “unsafe” to advance with Phase 2 of its reopening plan. California’s second-largest school district plans to reassess local public health conditions to update families with a new timeline on Jan. 13, officials said in a letter to families.

Parent activists have been pushing for in-person classes to resume on Jan. 4 date, but board members said it doesn’t make sense to bring the district’s 100,000 students back into the classroom with the virus spreading out of control.

โ€œWe know we can not move into the next phase of reopening while we are in the purple tier,โ€ said SDUSD Vice President Richard Barrera.. โ€œItโ€™s likely to get worse before it gets better, and so we thought it was important at this point for our parents to be able to plan — to just let folks know that we are going to have to stick to distance learning at least through January.โ€

“San Diego Unified has already spent tens of millions of dollars on air filtration, plexiglass desk dividers, hand sanitizer, personal protective equipment and more,” the letter said. “Schools will be ready when it is safe and responsible to fully reopen. Unfortunately, that time has not yet come.”

Appointment-based instruction on campuses continues to be offered to district students with the greatest needs, officials said. San Diego Unified also plans to increase the number of students learning in small groups in schools with appointments starting Dec. 7.

Roughly 2,000 elementary-aged students have participated in on-campus appointments since October, the district said.

“The most difficult stages of the pandemic may yet be ahead of us, but we are confident we will get through this together by remaining vigilant,” officials said.

On Tuesday, San Diego County reported 1,378 new COVID-19 infections and 22 deaths, pushing the pandemic death toll over 1,000. More than 700 coronavirus patients were hospitalized as of Tuesday โ€” including about 200 in the ICU โ€” as cases continue to surge in the county and elsewhere.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday that much of the state soon could be under a second stay-at-home order in hopes of preventing the health care system from being overrun.

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