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SAN MARCOS, Calif. – Some elementary-aged students in the San Marcos Unified School District will return to the classroom in person next month.

After much discussion Tuesday, the district’s governing board voted to approve a plan to bring second and third graders back to campuses Feb. 16 with fourth and fifth graders scheduled to follow Feb. 23. For middle and high school students, the district plans to expand small student groups such as clubs and emotional services in phases by the end of February.

Athletics and support for high-need students will resume Jan. 25. The district also plans to bring senior students back in a limited capacity.

District leaders previously gave the go-ahead for in-person learning to resume Jan. 26 for pre-K through first graders as well as elementary and secondary specialized special education programs and small cohorts of middle and high school students.

Many San Marcos students and parents have made it clear — both through public comment Tuesday and in rallies — they want students back in the classroom. Gov. Gavin Newsom has said he shares that vision of students in the classroom when it’s safe, but the district is limited by the state’s school reopening plan which does not allow schools with grades 7-12 to return if a county is in the state’s purple tier, as is San Diego County.

Some parents say they’re frustrated the San Marcos Unified Governing Board has taken so long to make a plan.

“All elementary students should return to campus immediately,” one speaker said Tuesday.

“How is it that after one week of government shutdown my association figured out safety protocols for 200,000 realtors then got us back to work and yours didn’t?” another said.