SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — San Diego Unified School District is set to reopen in-person classes for all grade levels by mid-April, according to the district Board of Education President Richard Barrera on Tuesday.
Barrera says students will be allowed to return on April 12. Students will also have the option to stay home.
SDUSD teachers will return to the classroom on April 5. Barrera added that teachers will be vaccinated before reopening, and vaccinations for educators are set to begin next week.
"The reason we're able to set those target dates is because, number one, we're seeing the case rates continue to decline and we believe San Diego County will be out of the purple tier certainly by that mid-April time frame. And secondly, we are working now with the county and UCSD and other entities to get our educators vaccinated. And the county will begin making vaccinations available to educators beginning next week and so under that timeline, we believe we can get our educators fully vaccinated in order to be back on our campuses by that first week after spring break," Barrera told ABC 10News.
Barrera said the plan is to bring all grade levels back after spring break, provided the vaccination schedule holds up and case rates continue to decrease. San Diego County is currently at a case rate of 22.2 per 100,000 people, as of Tuesday.
The district's Board of Education is set to meet Tuesday night to discuss the timeline to reopen.
Right now, the district allows a small number of students and staff per classroom and per campus, holds half days to avoid groups of students congregating, and required social distancing and mask-wearing on campus.
San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chairman Nathan Fletcher said the county would do everything it can to get teachers vaccinated.
"Getting our kids back in the classroom is one of our highest priorities and I want to commend San Diego Unified and the San Diego Education Association for reaching this agreement. At the county, we will do everything possible to get our school staff vaccinated so our classrooms can be open to in-person learning," a statement from Fletcher read.
San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria issued a similar statement, saying in part, "While a hybrid schedule is still difficult for many working families, this represents a step in the right direction. I will keep working with and urging the school district officials, teachers and stakeholders to continue making progress toward getting our kids back in the classroom full time."
San Diego has offered to make emergency medical personnel available to help administer vaccines to educators, according to the district.
Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom said that the state would set aside 10% of vaccines for teachers in order to begin vaccinating eligible Californians and get schools reopened.
"We are setting aside 10% of all first doses beginning with a baseline of 75,000 doses every single week. That will be made available and set aside for those educators and childcare workers that are supporting our efforts to get our kids back to in-person instruction. That's effective March 1," Governor Newsom said on Feb. 19.
Vaccinations are a key part of the state's $6.6 billion plan to reopen schools once the number of local COVID-19 infection rates decreases into the red tier for a county or seven per 100,000 residents. The plan says, "County public health departments shall make COVID-19 vaccines available to schoolsite personnel who are working at a schoolsite where pupils are attending in person."
The possibility of getting teachers vaccinated could depend on vaccine shipments, which have been delayed across the country over the past week due to severe winter weather around the country.
Newsom, however, said that he cannot support the plan and that he believes schools can reopen safely sooner in the purple tier of the state's reopening blueprint.
"Our stipulated guidelines is 25 per 100,000. The state is currently at 18.4," Newsom said this month. "Unfortunately, what was put into print would slow down the process of reopening our schools, and that is something I cannot support."