“It’s a curving road that keeps changing.”
That’s one way to sum up the past five months.
The Cajon Valley Union High School District thinks the road has straightened out enough to bring some of its students back to campus beginning Sept. 9. The district started the new school year with distance learning in mid-August.
“I’m so excited to have students be able to come back for the families that are ready,” said Assistant Superintendent Karen Minshew.
The school district had a test run this summer during a voluntary enrichment program. Hundreds of students on several campuses participated in classes with teachers. One school principal told NBC 7 each student was screened as they arrived on campus, they washed their hands regularly, wore masks, and were kept at a distance from other students while on campus. Minshew said it was a success.
“It was a warmup and we really did go in with the intent of 'Let’s learn this; let’s practice this on a small scale; understand what works,'” she said.
More importantly, according to the Cajon Valley Union School District, no teacher, student, or staff member got sick.
“There were no positive tests, COVID tests during our entire summer enrichment program,” said Minshew.
Now with restrictions eased for San Diego County schools, 29 of CVUSD’s schools are preparing to welcome some students back as early as next Wednesday. Minshew said families can choose from two options: Either full distance learning, or a hybrid where students are on campus twice a week. Minshew said they couldn’t welcome all their students back because the campuses and classrooms aren’t large enough to keep everyone safely apart.
“One of them would love to go back to school full-time and the other one is perfectly happy sitting at home,” said Roy Rodriguez, who has twin sixth graders at Flying Hills School of the Arts.
However, Rodriguez said the twins won’t physically go back to school yet.
“We still don’t know enough about large gatherings in a school setting in a small classroom,” he said.
According to statistics from the County of San Diego, El Cajon still has more COVID-19-related deaths per capita than any other city in the county.
Nevertheless, Rodriguez would not condemn a family that did send students to school.
“It’s totally understandable,” he said. “[Parents] need to work. The kids need to be at school. It’s a very stressful situation for everyone.”
Minshew was optimistic the district is much better prepared thanks to their trial run during the summer.