San Diego

State Lawmakers Want Schools Open Full-Time by Fall

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If some state lawmakers have their way, distance learning as we have come to know it during the pandemic will be a thing of the past.

During the past school year, districts still received state money for student attendance, even though students were learning from home. They got a waiver. Some lawmakers want to allow that waiver to expire.

“The distance learning waiver needs to expire on June 30th,” said State Assembly Budget Chair Phil Ting. “Because distance learning has not worked for the majority of students, teachers and school districts across the country.”

Ting said for those who still do not want to go back to the classroom for fear of COVID-19 or for whom distance learning has worked, there are options.

Like many parents, some state lawmakers say schools need to reopen in the fall -- and get back to normal, reports NBC 7's Rory Devine.

“Families have every right to do what’s best for their children,” Ting said. “There are a variety of choices and options they can pursue, and they have every right to pursue them.”

He said accommodations for students with health issues remain. There continues to be online independent study courses, and homeschooling and online charter schools.  As for districts losing state money if families move out of the districts, Ting said districts have lost thousands of families because of distance learning, and there will be more families fleeing if schools do not reopen.

“I think we need to send a very clear message from Sacramento to let districts know they should anticipate being back in the full-time, five days a week, back to normal.

The president of the board of the San Diego Unified School District Board Richard Barrera said the district will reopen in the fall full-time, five days a week.

“That is absolutely our intention in San Diego Unified. However, we want to provide an expanded online option for families.”

Barrera said the district will expand independent studies and online programs which are traditionally for smaller groups of students.

“Having the waiver expire, that does not preclude the ability to offer online options.  What it does do is say districts can’t say 'We’re not ready to be back full time in person.’ We must be back full time, in person.”

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