What we learned about school navigation and COVID – Voice of San Diego

Students walk to class at Bear Valley Middle School. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Class is back for most students in San Diego — and, for many, it’s not going well.

The rapid increase in coronavirus cases in the region has left schools scramble to find substitutes, forces the districts to reduce extracurricular activities and prompted opinions of possible disturbances in school transport.

Late Thursday, San Diego Unified leaders sent parents an email with a clear message: the impact of staff shortages will only worsen in the weeks to come.

“For the next month, we have authorized principals to use other certified staff members to supervise students when teachers and substitutes are unavailable… Principals are also taking other measures, including moving students to outdoors in good weather and in large indoor spaces,” read the email.

Officials said no one should anticipate a district-wide return to online learning. Instead, San Diego Unified will consult with the county on a threshold for when individual schools may need to close.

“It’s not the return to normal that many of us hoped for at the start of the school year, but we have effective planning in place, a strong team to implement those plans and the full support of our beloved community,” officials said. wrote.

With so much uncertainty surrounding schools, we asked parents to share their experience over the past few weeks and what they wish their district explained better. Here are some of their responses, edited for clarity.

Katie Matchett, whose children attend Sessions Elementary in Pacific Beach, said back-to-school advice was difficult to interpret when one of her children tested positive.

“Official communication from the school was ‘call for instructions if anyone tests positive’ – I spent four hours trying to get through…When I was finally able to contact the school nurse by e -mail, I was told it was good for my healthy child to go to school. But our neighbors in the area, with the exact same scenario, were told to keep their child healthy at home for nearly 3 weeks I see this playing out with other families and schools as well, with conflicting advice from schools adding to the stress and confusion of an already difficult situation.

Mark Lane, whose children attend Vernon Elementary and Lemon Grove Academy Middle School, estimated this week that the two schools had an absenteeism rate of around 40%, with many teachers and staff sick.

“Why aren’t we on a few weeks of distance learning? Why are we exposing teachers, staff and children? ” He asked.

Mary, a parent from High Tech High in Clairemont Mesa, reiterated that attendance is low.

“(On) the first day back from Christmas vacation, 20% of students did not return. The numbers have slowly increased since then,” she said, adding that she would like a guarantee from the district that schools will remain open.

On a more positive note, Lisa Deaton, whose children attend the Waldorf School in San Diego, told us that she thinks the school has done a good job in handling COVID because classes are being held there at the outdoors since fall 2020.

“I feel safe with my children going to school,” she said. “Classes are small and masks are mandatory. Testing is available to all students, staff and family each week. So while things weren’t normal, we were able to be in person longer than other schools in San Diego.

Share your back-to-school experience with us here.

Top News of the week

  • Mayor Todd Gloria set big priorities this week during his State of the City address. He urged the city to tackle tough challenges like homelessness and collapsing urban infrastructure as it emerges from the pandemic.
  • Chula Vista leaders are prepared to declare a state of emergency in hopes it will help end the standoff between sanitation workers and Republic utilities. But as Jesse Marx explained this week, the city has little weight. The city’s contract with Republic Services says the company is not responsible for any “uncontrollable circumstance,” including a strike.
  • In other South Bay news, we learned Chula Vista Councilman John McCann filed a lawsuit accusing Mayor Mary Casillas Salas of discrimination and harassment because she called him a “gringo.” . The city spent $16,000 to settle the dispute, with outside counsel concluding that it did not rise to the level of harassment or discrimination.

Read these reviews

On San Diego Unified’s decision to shut down after-school and off-season sports…

“Having less activity is absolutely the wrong thing to do…As a PE teacher, less activity only leads to more problems, but the geniuses in the district have little or no clue. They feel like hiding in a hole, like a groundhog, will save anyone from anything. Increased activity equates to increased oxygen capacity, heart function, and overall well-being. – kaponis

“To my knowledge, no one has suggested kids stop exercising, have they? Maybe the lesson here is, listen to the adults, if the kids haven’t already , they learn not only discipline and independent exercise skills, but the seemingly forgotten principle that the health of the greater community is more important than scheduled adult extracurricular play time. –Jerry Hall

On the Chula Vista Trash Strike…

“It just seems like Republic services don’t care much about the public they serve, and the contract with the city of Chula Vista is manipulative in that it allows the company to continue to generate revenue even during a work conflict.” –Richard Barry

On Chula Vista spending $16,000 to investigate the mayor’s use of the “gringo”…

“Such a shame that so much money was wasted on this. Seems like the conclusion that was drawn is about right thankfully, but still. In my opinion, if ‘gringo’ is used in a derogatory tone or in a negative context, it’s not appropriate for the workplace, but it’s still not discrimination or worthy of investigation.As others have commented, it’s definitely white fragility in action. -Becky Winkler

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