Safely Back to School: Carmel Valley private school builds tents to hold classes outdoors

Cal Coast Academy plans for return to campus
CCA Tent 1.jpg
Posted at 7:27 AM, Aug 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-19 10:36:09-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Cal Coast Academy, a private school in Carmel Valley, has an "ambitious" plan to bring kids back to campus as soon as San Diego gets approval from state and county administrators.

"When we put our mind to something, we make it happen," says Jan Dunning, the school's founder and principal.

Dunning plans to build six large tents on the school's property, similar to tents used at weddings or other large events. They'll have flooring, electricity and other amenities to make them feel like indoor classrooms.

"At my school we think on our feet," says Dunning. "We are flexible because we work with students that need flexibility. So that's a real strength of ours."

Cal Coast Academy caters to students who need non-traditional learning, like elite athletes who travel extensively, international students, or students with learning disabilities. That's why the school feels they'll be able to make a non-traditional learning environment work this fall.

Class sizes in the tents will be limited to six students per teacher, to allow for social distancing.

But the project isn't cheap. Dunning says they've already spent nearly $30,000 on the tents. Costs like that make it unlikely that public schools with large enrollments would be able to hold classes outdoors in a similar fashion. But Dunning believes it's doable for small groups, like students with special needs who struggle with online learning.