reopening schools

Some San Diego County Students Could Return for In-Person Instruction Sooner Than Expected

A change in the requirement for physical distancing could mean there's more space for more students on campuses.

NBC Universal, Inc.

Just as some school districts put their reopening proposals in place, there could be a change in plans.

Currently, middle and high school students in many districts follow a hybrid model to accommodate for distance learning. Over the weekend, though, the California Department of Public Health quickly followed the Centers for Disease Control's lead in recommending at least three feet of distancing in the classroom, no longer requiring four feet to six feet between students' desks.

“Now that the physical-distancing requirements are out of the way, it allows us to bring more kids back on campus,” said Carlsbad Unified School District Superintendent Ben Churchill.

At its board meeting Wednesday, Churchill said the board would consider a proposal to bring students who want in-person instruction back five days a week, beginning on March 29 after spring break.

A Poway Unified representative said the district is working on what it can do to revise its reopening plan so that more students can come back full time. The change could also apply to elementary schools, many of which are open half-days. The board will look at a proposal on April 8.

For its part, San Dieguito Union High School district has scheduled a special meeting next Wednesday to determine how it could change its reopening, given the adjusted guidelines. Superintendent Robert Haley wrote in a text to NBC7, “We are working on our plan for the remainder of the year and should have it done by Wednesday evening. The shift to three feet makes our planning much easier.”

San Diego Unified said it will not make any changes to its reopening plans, which has students who choose to return coming back April 12 for a hybrid model of instruction. It will have a minimum of five feet of distance between students, which the district said is "in sync with what [a] panel of UCSD experts recommends." The district has been working closely with a panel from UCSD on its reopening plans.

Sweetwater Union High School district said it will “stick to six feet as much as possible” and its original plan to bring back high school seniors and a limited group of students who may need added support.

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