CHULA VISTA, Calif. (KGTV) -- South Bay junior and senior high school families learned Monday they will need to stand fast at home a little longer after district officials said they will not reopen campuses for physical learning this year.
The Sweetwater Union High School District announced that students will continue distance learning through December 2020 citing "significantly higher" COVID-19 cases within the district's communities.
The announcement comes as local health officials wait to hear if the state will place San Diego County back into the purple tier -- the most restrictive level on California's coronavirus reopening road map. Such a move would likely shutter indoor operations for restaurants, movie theaters, houses of worship and gyms, limit retail businesses to just 25% capacity.
The South Bay continues to be one of the county's hardest hit areas. Chula Vista reported 5,603 COVID-19 cases making up 12.7% of the county's total cases, according to the latest county health data.
"It is with this information, and with our continued commitment to the safety of our students, families, and staff, that we announce the continuation of distance learning for the remainder of the semester through December 2020," the district said in an email to families.
"As was outlined in our reopening plan earlier in the summer, our next checkpoint will be by November 30, 2020, to determine how we will start the second semester in January 2021," officials said.
SUHSD is the first school district to commit to closing its campuses through the remainder of the year.
The district kicked off its school year online on Aug. 3, the first district in the county to start the fall semester.
Under the distance learning model, students are attending three virtual classes per day with 30 to 45 minutes of virtual face time with each teacher. The remaining time is spent in independent study.
The district said that they are researching ways to provide in-person services to "some of our highest needs students," and the possibility of small group supports if pandemic conditions improve.
"During this incredibly challenging time, we will continue to closely monitor the latest information and work with our local health agencies and our partners to ensure that we are doing what is in the best public health interest of the entire community," officials said.
The district said it will again review its next steps on Nov. 30 to determine how it will start the second semester in January 2021.