San Dieguito Union High School District

North County Family With Sick Son Raises Health Concerns About In-person Learning

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“I look at COVID and, to me, COVID parallels what's gone on with my son for the last three years because COVID is so unknown," Susan LaGrange told NBC 7 on Wednesday

LaGrange and her North County family are asking the San Dieguito Union High School District to reconsider its reopening plans and its intent to return to in-person classes.

All certificated teachers will return to work on campus by Thursday, Oct. 29, according to district superintendent Robert Haley.

“If we can be patient and if we can be careful, we can beat COVID,” LaGrange said.

LaGrange, the parent of two San Dieguito Academy students, said she wants the school board to pause on-campus re-openings.

“I'm scared,,” said Simon LaGrange, a senior at San Dieguito Academy. "I don't want to become ill from this. I don't want my sister to become ill and infect my family with this."

Simon said it's a scary prospect for him or his sister to return to campus since he has a compromised immune system and is battling a spinal-cord illness.

“It constricts your blood flow and so you have problems with your lymph nodes, and it actually causes and wreaks havoc on your muscles and ligaments,” Simon explained.

For the past three years, Simon has been fighting a sister illness to Lyme disease, and the journey has been tough as a tumor formed near his spinal cord.

“So this tumor’s pressing on a bundle of nerves in my back,” Simon said. “So, that's why I can't really sit up for a long time at all, and I can't really walk.”

Simon’s high school experience has been different than most. In the beginning, he had a teacher visiting his home, but he said the district stopped that program and moved him into virtual schooling on his own. However, following the pandemic, he’s now participating in distance learning with all of his classmates.

“I haven't had the chance to have, you know, discussions like I'm having with my teachers in three years,” Simon said.

While Simon is getting better and receiving treatment, his mother is asking the school board to reconsider their plans.

“It is this experience of seeing my son this ill and trying to figure out what was wrong with him because the bacterial infection he got was rare,” Susan said.

Susan said she cannot stand to think of other young people catching a disease and then dealing with unknown long term effects.

“I don't want some young individual with potential to end up with kidney failure or damage their lungs and their hearts, which is what we're seeing with COVID,” Susan said.

In a letter to the community, Superintendent Haley said that students will have a choice to return to campus one day a week starting next month.

“But at what cost?" Simon said. "There's no balance between human lives and going back to school physically.”

Haley said the district will host its second Expanded Reopening Committee meeting Thursday night, where more planning will be shared.

“We have received thousands of emails from our community since this pandemic began, and we continue to do so,” Haley said. “We have done parents and student focus groups, held meetings with existing parent groups, we have down site-based parent meetings, and we have done multiple surveys. We receive comments at all of our regular and special board meetings.”

A representative for the school district said it has also listened to concerns from families who asked the school to re-open faster.

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