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Some local schools to seek waivers for in-person instruction

Posted at 5:21 PM, Jul 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-23 14:39:25-04

ESCONDIDO, Calif. (KGTV) - A private elementary school in the North County is hoping an extensive safety plan could help secure a waiver to reopen the school in mid-August.

When Governor Newsom issued his order stopping in-person schooling for counties on the watch list, plans to reopen came to a sudden halt. Amanda Johnston is principal at St. Mary's School in Escondido, a Catholic K-8 school.

School officials started developing the plan in April. It includes limiting enrollment, which now stands at about 170 students. That will allow the school to social distance in each classroom.

"We can fit 18 to 22 students depending on the room, and each student has at least six feet of space in all directions," said Johnston.

Within the room, each desk will contain plexiglass desk shields.

"24 inches tall and three sides. No matter which direction they're looking, they are protected," said Johnston.

Other protective measures include deep cleanings at the end of each day, sanitizing surfaces throughout the day and hand washing stations.
Teachers will wear face shields. Masks are mandatory for students in the third grade and higher. Masks will be strongly encouraged for younger children.

Teachers will rotate in, while students most stay put, except for breaks and outdoor lessons.

"We're really appreciative of the fact there is going to be a potential waiver to reopen," said Johnston.

Johnston is hoping the school's plans will help them secure an exemption. The state has said public school districts and private schools can seek a waiver from county health officers to reopen elementary schools.

"We definitely plan to take all the necessary steps once we understand all the criteria and the process," said Johnston.

As the school awaits that guidance, the work continues. Underway now: a deep cleaning of the classrooms.

"Everything we have done had been to make sure when students return to campus, it is safe for everyone involved," said Johnston.
The school is set to begin its school year August 19.