Chula Vista Elementary School District Delays Reopening, Possibly Till Near End of 2020

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All the South Bay parents aching to send their children back to elementary school are going to have to wait a while longer.

Chula Vista Elementary Schools Superintendent Francisco Escobedo said on Monday that the district is pushing back the proposed start date of Oct. 26 likely to near the year's end, saying it's just not safe enough yet for students and staff to return.

Earlier in the day, sixth-grader Ismael Ramirez was enjoying some downtime with his sister and cousin after a frustrating day of distance learning.

"It's weird when we're online because I don't think we learn as much -- teachers can't get control of everyone," Ismael said.

While the Halecrest Elementary student may be ready to tackle the books on campus, he's going to have to wait longer than expected.

"I know I sent you a letter stating specifically we would ideally start the end of October, but looking at these rates, it will probably be closer to the end of the year," Escobedo said.

With that surprise announcement during an online town hall on Monday, Escobedo pushed back the reopening date for in-person learning of Oct. 26 back by months.

Teacher's union president Susan Skala told NBC 7 she was encouraged by the later start date because she and some union members were concerned the district was moving too fast and didn't have a plan in place to keep everyone safe on campus, especially since there have already been cases of coronavirus at the distance-learning support program.

Escobedo said that the district had purchased $3.5 million in safety equipment for the schools, most of which has arrived, with the signage stored away and awaiting installation. And more is on the way, Escobedo said.

"There is still more to come in....  I believe there is going to be over 4,000 plastic dividers at the end of the month," Escobedo said.

The union said, had the district opened on the targeted date, that the last-minute delivery would have compromised teacher and student safety.

"We are still in the process of bargaining a safe return," Skala said. "We need to make sure that all these safety violations are corrected, that people are properly trained and that we have systems in place."

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