It’s music to a school child’s ears: The summer break will be twice as long this year for the Chula Vista Elementary School District. But for parents, it's causing concern.
The Chula Vista Elementary School District has a year-round calendar where students have a shorter summer vacation and more breaks throughout the year. Students were supposed to return to school July 20, 2020 -- until the coronavirus pandemic reared its ugly head.
However, a message from the District Superintendent Francisco Escobedo, Ed.D. said CVESD is targeting a return date six weeks later on August 31, 2020.
That’s twice as long as the usual summer break.
“What am I going to do for those additional six weeks?” asked Christine Antoine. “How am I going to fill up that time? How am I going to go back to work?”
Her son Miles will start the second grade at Thurgood Marshall Elementary. Miles said he was having fun with his mom during distance learning.
Mom enjoyed it, too. Some of it.
“It’s been a challenge just working full time and trying to manage classroom work,” she said. ‘[The coronavirus] just everything turned upside down.”
“What a long summer,” laughed Eddie Cox.
His daughter attends one of CVESD’s charter schools. Cox said moving the back-to-school date from July 20 to August 31 will be easier for his family because he runs his mortgage company from home.
“It’s OK but it’s going to be a long summer,” he repeated. Cox admitted he’d rather see her go back sooner.
“Get them back into school and try to get them as much of a regular school year as possible.”
“I’m just, one day at a time,” sighed Antoine.
She has worked from home since March but doesn’t know when she’ll be called back to the office.
“It’s a little tough to do a spelling test and be on a virtual meeting at the same time,” she said.
CVESD said that this is just for one year.
“We understand that different calendars are difficult but this is for one year, with the plan to return to our year-round schedule next year,” said Susan Skala, President of the Chula Vista Educators teacher’s union.
The Sweetwater Union High School District (SUHSD) said they will also be restarting school in August.
“While we traditionally align our calendar with the Sweetwater Union High School District (SUHSD), we also understand that the challenges and considerations regarding safely reopening schools and providing meaningful instruction via distance learning are different for elementary schools and secondary schools,” wrote Dr. Escobedo. “It is our intention to align our future calendars with SUHSD once this pandemic is over.”
SUHSD, which also uses a year-round calendar, announced it was returning to school August 3, 2020. There are five school districts in San Diego County’s South Bay. Manny Rubio, spokesman for SUHSD said the districts historically work together to make the calendars similar. The Coronavirus pandemic has forced a lot of districts to change their plans for the 2020/2021 school year.
The different start times mean families with children in two districts will have the younger one at home for four weeks, while their older siblings start middle and high school.
“It’s definitely a challenge for families with younger siblings,” said Rubio. “It’s going to be a challenge.
"We will do what we can to work with families.”
Frustratingly, this discussion was simply about when school will start. None of the five South Bay school districts have announced how children will return to school. Districts are still debating between virtual schooling, classroom learning, or a hybrid of the two.
“Elementary concerns are that students need more face-to-face time to start, it's easier to distance learn for older students, and it gives us more time to adequately plan, prepare, train teachers and support staff, get safety equipment and protocols in place,” said Skala.
“I can say that each district and union is looking at their situation and making decisions based on the best interests of our students and the workers who serve them,” Skala added. “There is no option that meets the needs of all and we all really believe that our start dates are what is best considering the circumstances.”