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SDUSD families still have questions following virtual town hall about school year

Posted at 5:35 PM, Aug 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-20 15:06:26-04

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (KGTV) - Families of the San Diego Unified School District participated in a telephone town hall Wednesday to listen in on a discussion between panelists Superintendent Cindy Marten and three SDUSD teachers. The school year is set to begin virtually Aug. 31 and the panel discussed what day-to-day classroom time will look like.

Teachers shared some of the steps they’ve taken to prepare for the online learning and gave tips to families to keep students successful. Some tips included making sure parent information is updated to ensure accurate information on scheduling and supply pickup is shared, setting alarms on phones to keep students on track with their schedule and compensate for a lack of bells, and also creating a designated learning space for students.

Related: San Diego Unified School District announces detailed online learning plan

The panel, organized and hosted by Assemblymember Todd Gloria, said individual schools will share specific information on where and when families can pick up supplies, including books and computers.

The teachers on the panel also assured families that the students would not spend the whole school day in front of a screen, but rather have some time with the teacher, some time with other students and some individual work time.

They also added that older students will work on a quarter system instead of a semester system, which would allow smaller class sizes and fewer classes for each student.

While the main message of the town hall was hope and teamwork between schools and families, parent Andrea Gallegos said she still has questions that went unanswered.

“Is there a plan to transition back when we’re off the watch list now? Is there any kind of timeline for that? I’m frustrated,” she said.

Despite the county being removed from the state’s watch list, the district said it plans to begin the 2020-21 school year with online instruction.

"You may recall that San Diego Unified announced on July 13 that it would start the school year with online instruction. That decision came before the governor announced (on July 17) that at least 90 percent of California schools would start the year with online instruction," SDUSD spokesperson Maureen Magee told this station in an email.

"The district continues plans to physically reopen schools as soon as it is safe to do so. The standards/metrics we are watching were established by our panel of scientific experts from UC San Diego – you can find them on our website in this report: https://www.sandiegounified.org/sites/default/files_link/district/files/Report_vF.pdf," said Magee.

The document Magee refers to includes various recommendations made by UCSD including classroom distancing, transportation and busing, disinfecting, and Quarantine versus School or Class Closure.

"There are various directions from different sources on when to allow a student or staff member back to school, after experiencing symptoms, and at what point other potential contacts are quarantined for 14 days," the report says about a possible quarantine scenario. That section refers to guidance from Centers for Disease Control, California Department of Public Health, San Diego County health officials, and epidemiologists.