Beginning this week, schools must make sure they are meeting new state requirements to be open for in-person learning.
At Grapevine Elementary School in the Vista Unified School District, two teachers were hired for the fourth and fifth grades so there could be fewer students in a classroom, allowing for more social distancing.
“Starting February 1, it has to be a minimum of four feet between students, so we were able to hire additional teachers to make it happen,” said Principal Rafael Olavide.
Before this week, they said the ratio was 34 to 1 in fourth and fifth-grade students. Now, it is 20 to 1.
“With 34 to 1, it was probably three feet away and very tight actually, so right now it’s at least four, and you can see in the classroom we have maximized the space to make it five feet from students, and six feet between students and the teacher,” olavide said.
Olavide said the district has been successful in controlling the spread of coronavirus.
“If we have cases at Grapevine, it’s because they come from outside," he said.
Olavide said about 45% of the students at his school and in the district have chosen to stay home for virtual learning, and the district feels an obligation to provide for those families who cannot afford to stay home or who have bad internet connectivity.
In the meantime, the district’s middle and high schools have not reopened.
Superintendent Matt Doyle spoke about the state requirements for schools to reopen for in-person instruction. He said the biggest challenge facing districts is having stable groups of students.
“As you know, students in middle and high schools take more than one course over the course of the day, so they have to move around, and so I think it's the stable group that's the biggest challenge for us now," Doyle said.
Doyle said the question is how does the state define a "stable" group?
“As soon as we have a more firm definition of that, I think we will be able to move forward, probably make some adjustments to our classroom configuration so we have fewer students in the classroom so that we can bring them back," Doyle said.
Doyle said the district plans to start by phasing in middle schools, maybe in the next few weeks, then move on to high schools.