FOX 5 San Diego

School district settles with teachers union, cancels in-person learning

SAN DIEGO — Board members voted Monday to settle with a teachers union and cancel plans to return to in-person learning next week in the San Dieguito Union High School District.

The board originally approved plans Dec. 15 to offer in-person instruction one day per week for all of its 12,900 middle and high school students starting Jan. 4. Five days of in-person instruction per week would have resumed Jan. 27.

The San Dieguito Faculty Association sued the district, saying the return to in-person learning would break state rules that prohibit schools from reopening amid the worst surge of COVID-19 the county has seen.

The board approved the settlement with the teachers union Monday, halting the reopening of schools until at least Jan. 27.

Full statement from the Board of Trustees:

“On December 28, 2020, the Board of Trustees made the decision to enter into a settlement agreement with the San Dieguito Faculty Association to avoid litigation regarding an expansion of reopening and instead focus on student learning and the safety of our students, families, staff, and community. This was not an easy decision, but one reflective of safety and maintaining the integrity of our second academic quarter while focusing on planning for the future in a more collaborative way. The agreement includes pausing expansion of general in-person instruction for the remainder of the second quarter, however, it does not preclude continuing the current classes, programs, and activities taking place on our campuses. It also allows the schools to expand those opportunities following the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) small cohort guidance. 

Following Thanksgiving break, we experienced an increase in positive cases in our school community and this impacted our staffing. The decision to pause will help to reduce the impact of quarantining due to positive cases within our shared community. Increasing numbers of staff have required medical accommodations, which we are processing and granting, however, this also requires us to plan on how to plan supervision for on-campus students. Our system is already stretched to the limit, and the potential of post-holiday travel and gathering-related illnesses and quarantines could jeopardize the ability to operate our current critical on-campus classes and programs. Although we have increased pay for substitutes and recruited more, they remain in short supply. 

We are hoping during this pause in January our students can focus on finishing the second quarter successfully as we want them to get the instruction and support they need. We also want to use this time to plan carefully for the third quarter to ensure our best hope for a successful expansion of our reopening and more general in-person instruction for our students. Also during the pause, we want to further educate our school community on the bundled safety measures we have in place. We will continue to monitor the guidance coming from the CDPH and the San Diego County Public Health Orders. 

The Board of Trustees, and staff, want to reaffirm a commitment to expanding in-person instruction in each of our schools. We encourage everyone to visit our Safe Reopening Page, which has detailed information to include our plan, frequently asked questions, health, safety, and operations information graphic, and instructional videos. We will continue to add more information to the page in the month of January and as we move forward.  

We understand the impact this decision has on our students, families, and staff, and how challenging this school year has been for everyone. We want to thank our staff for their flexibility and for working tirelessly to support learning throughout this pandemic.  We know this is not ideal learning circumstances for so many of our students and this weighs heavily on all of us. We want to thank our students and families for their patience and understanding as we continue to navigate uncharted waters together.”