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If San Diego County falls to purple tier, some schools may delay reopening

Posted at 4:41 PM, Nov 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-06 22:31:06-05

LA MESA, CA (KGTV) — Parents of children in an East County school district were looking forward to their kids returning to campus at the end of this month, but that might not happen.

Students in the La Mesa-Spring Valley District are scheduled to return Nov. 30, but if San Diego County's COVID-19 cases push the county back to the most restrictive purple tier, that will not happen.

Meg Jacobsen is the executive director of the district's education services. Her seven-year-old daughter is also a student in the district.

"My daughter loves to go to virtual school, but being on a zoom all day can be hard for students, especially little ones," said Jacobsen.

Under the state's health mandate, schools that are already open in some capacity would not be affected by moving back a tier, but schools that are closed would not be able to open.

"If schools have opened for in-person learning, then they can continue with what they are doing. At some schools, where they may have opened several grade levels, say they opened K-3, and they planned to continue adding grade levels, those schools would be able to continue doing that," said Bob Mueller, program specialist at the San Diego County Office of Education.

The mandate applies to individual school sites.

"In other places, where you might have one school in a school district opened and other schools not, those schools would be frozen," said Mueller.

Jacobsen is hoping the county's number of COVID-19 cases goes down.

"This has been a rocky road the past six months for us. Our teachers have been just absolutely amazing," said Jacobsen.

The district initially planned to open in mid-October but pushed back the date partly because of the outbreak of cases at nearby San Diego State.

"Like so many things in 2020, we've had to, I think the word is, pivot, make plans A, B, C and then when we find something new, we are prepared, but we have to be prepared and adjust the way we go," said Jacobsen.

San Diego Unified is still planning to bring more students back on campus in January. Oceanside's school district is bringing back elementary students on Nov. 9, middle, and high school students are scheduled to return in January.

Schools impacted by the purple tier would not be able to open until mid-December.

"Schools that haven't reopened in any capacity would essentially be frozen there for a minimum of five weeks," said Mueller.

"It's a waiting game at this point," said Jacobsen.

Elementary schools would be allowed to apply for a waiver from the county to try to reopen.