mental health

SDUSD Scraps Last-Minute Plan for Mental Health Day Off, Offers Excused Absence Instead

The district was going to present the idea of making Nov. 12 a day off so students can recharge, but after pushback from parents worried about scrambling to find childcare the district decided to keep campuses open to students who want to come to school

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The San Diego Unified School District told parents it won't cancel classes next Friday in the name of mental health after parents pushed back on the last-minute idea, but the district said students can take advantage of an excused absence if they choose not to come to school that day.

In a letter to parents and staff on Thursday, SDUSD Interim Superintendent Dr. Lamont Jackson said the district will present the idea of canceling classes Nov. 12, the Friday after Veterans Day, at next Tuesday’s board meeting, leaving just a few days in between the decision and the potential day off.

SDUSD Interim Superintendent Dr. Lamont Jackson said the district will present the idea of canceling classes the Friday after Veterans Day at next Tuesday's board meeting, reports NBC 7's Amber Frias.

Parents took to social media to note how the last-minute change would send them scrambling to find arrangements for their children.

“It is unacceptable to pull this last minute,” one parent said. Another said, “Are you kidding me! You aren’t making a decision until two days before the ‘mental health’ day and think that's OK. You’ve just stressed out every parent in SDUSD. This is unacceptable.”

Jackson said SDUSD was proposing canceling classes to give families the opportunity to focus on their own mental health and wellness.

“The last 20 months of the pandemic have challenged all of us in different ways. We have heard from many parents and students that their mental health has suffered.... That is why we have decided to take the extraordinary step of providing every family with additional recovery time next week,” Jackson said, in part, in his letter.

The proposed day off also came with a plan for the district to provide child care and scaled-down food services for students.

NBC 7’s Mari Payton sat down with the group’s founder, Sharon McKeeman, to ask why she and her supporters are compelled to go against expert advice from organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In an email sent Friday evening, Jackson said the district heard enough from families ahead of next week's meeting and settled on a middle ground.

"We’ve heard from many families that appreciated the opportunity to focus on mental health and wellness; others expressed concerns about their ability to find adequate childcare solutions on such short notice. After careful consideration, we have decided to keep our classrooms open next Friday," Jackson said.

"All students will be welcome at school on November 12.

NBC 7's Dave Summers breaks down the rules of the mandate after SDUSD's unanimous vote.

We will continue to offer students the chance to use that day to rest and recharge. Families that choose to keep their students out of school for a mental health day on November 12 will have their absence marked as 'excused.'"

If the district decides to add a mental health day off to the school calendar next year or further in the future, the district must add an instructional somewhere else during the school year.

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