North County School District Moves to Distance Learning Till 2021

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Officials at the Escondido Union School District said that, beginning Tuesday, all student attendance in the district will take place virtually until Jan. 12.

As a result, students will add 11 days of remote instruction to their school year, a hardship for families left scrambling for child care on short notice. The district had been utilizing the hybrid model and offering extended care up until Monday.

"We know this decision directly impacts our families," EUSD superintendent Luis Rankins-Ibarra said in an email sent out on Monday. "We know that it’s far from ideal, but this was the right decision at this time."

Since Sept. 28, 655 students and 151 staff members have had to quarantine for 14 days due to exposure to people who tested positive for the coronavirus. In December alone, 193 students and 37 workers have had to quarantine, according to school officials. And just over the weekend, exposure to new positive cases prompted 120 people to quarantine.

"Ensuring sufficient, high-quality staffing is a daily struggle in this situation," Rankins-Ibarra said in the note sent out on Monday. "This includes teachers, substitute teachers, health technicians, custodians, aides and other staff members, all of whom fill vital roles. That compromises safety for our children and employees. We can’t provide a quality in-person educational experience if we don’t have the staff."

The district stressed in its announcement that the shift to remote learning was not connected to the beginning of the state-enforced stay-at-home order that began at 12 a.m. on Monday.

"However, the increase in community cases and the impact on EUSD schools has reached a point where the operational efficiency of schools could compromise the safety and health of our students and staff, and compromise the district’s ability to provide a consistent, quality educational program," the district said in the announcement.

Winter break for the district, which is scheduled to being Dec. 19, ends on Jan. 6, but authorities made the decision to keep campuses closed until the beginning of the following week.

The district is made up of 6 middle and intermediate and 17 elementary schools. More than 15,000 students attend Escondido Union School District schools.

Staff members will still be answering phones and emails regarding technical and other support during the suspension of in-person classes, officials said, and principals will be in touch with families regarding any learning-materials that need to go home. Also, the district Nutrition Services team will still be distributing free to-go meals from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at all school sites through Dec. 18. During break, meals will be handed out during the same hours on Dec. 21, Dec. 23, Dec. 28, Dec, 30, Jan. 4 and Jan. 6 at Mission Middle School and Central, Farr, Felicita, Glen View, Juniper and Lincoln elementary schools.

Last week, the superintendent of the Lakeside Union School District closed the Winter Gardens Elementary School after a spate of positive COVID cases among students. They, too, will be distance learning until 2021.

Lakeside Union School District's superintendent sent an email out on Thursday to families with a student attending Winter Gardens Elementary School, reports NBC 7's Rory Devine.
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