The Poway Unified School District board voted unanimously Thursday to suspend in-person learning at all campuses for at least two weeks following winter break.
From Jan. 4 to Jan. 15, students will go back to distance learning and on-campus instruction is expected to resume Tuesday, Jan. 19.
The district said the switch to virtual learning was made in an effort to protect the district community from COVID-19, and from the impacts quarantines in the event of exposure could have on staff.
"Our system is already stretched to the limit, and cannot sustain another influx of post-holiday travel and gathering-related illnesses and quarantines. With compounding staff shortages following winter break, we would be unable to provide the amount of substitutes needed to effectively run our in-person schools and classrooms," a letter to district families read in part.
The district said it is still experiencing severe staffing shortages at campuses that followed the Thanksgiving break.
"We are trying to proactively prevent such a dire scenario, which has already forced neighboring districts to shut down with little notice to their staff and families," the letter said.
Some parents in the district have already been bracing for the switch, fearing their child's routine would be disturbed once again.
“There is this sort of unsettling unrest that someone is going to pull the trigger and, eventually, it’s going to go back to virtual, just because it’s easier to control circumstances that way,” parent Jessica McClure Kuhar said earlier this week.
McClure Kuhar said, given the rise in coronavirus cases across the nation and specifically in her zip code, "I am not completely surprised of the notion that post the holiday, there will be a desire to go completely virtual, even if it’s for a short period of time until things come down again."
The district routinely reviews its re-opening plans at its monthly board meetings and updates them as it feels necessary.