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California rejects in-person middle, high school plans for 3 North County school districts

Posted at 4:52 PM, Mar 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-08 19:52:15-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Three North County school districts have been forced to delay their plans to return all middle and high school students to campus after the state rejected in-person learning plans.

Carlsbad Unified School, Poway Unified, and San Dieguito Union High School districts had their plans turned down this week. Those plans had been approved by San Diego County public health officials.

This week, SDUHSD planned to start returning middle and high school students to campus once per week. Those plans were nixed after the state said their plan was "approved with conditions." The problem with that, officials at each district say, is that they can't reopen with California's ratio of 15 students to one teacher per class when students have multiple subjects.

"They gave a whole list of specific reasons that had never been part of any reopening requirement, never been part of any set of rules, had never been conveyed to us before that those were requirements for the reopening plan," said Scott Davison, co-director of the Carlsbad chapter of the Parent Association.

District officials agreed.

"Governor Newsom said he wanted schools to open, he's put out guidance, we can meet all of that guidance, we can meet all of the requirements, our public health officer Dr. Wooten says we're ready, we can do this, and then he says no," said SDUHSD Superintendent Dr. Robert Haley.

"We thought the hardest approval was going to be with the county office, and they did, they vetted it hard, and we went through a thorough process and we were approved so with their full support we thought this is going to be great," said PUSD Superintendent Dr. Mariam Kim-Phelps.

Carlsbad Unified Superintendent Dr. Ben Churchill said in a letter to families that the district would be able to allow at least some sixth-grade students the option to return to campus, due to variance within the state's guidance.

"Last night the California Department of Public Health denied our application to return all middle and high school students to in-person instruction. However, as shared at our February 17, 2021 meeting of the Board of Trustees, the current CDPH directive allows schools to offer in-person instruction to students in grades TK through 6th grade. As such, we will implement a hybrid model of in-person instruction for sixth-grade students beginning with students in Cohort A tomorrow (Tuesday, March 9, 2021)," Churchill's letter stated.

CUSD students in 7th through 12th grades will have the option to return to campus as part of the district's cohort model, according to Churchill.