Vista Unified School District confirmed its intention to proceed with an Oct. 20 reopening despite pleas from some teachers and community members to postpone any in-class instruction.
Following five hours of public comments and a discussion among the district’s board members on Thursday, school district leaders ultimately decided to not take any action against the school’s reopening plan.
Students whose parents opted for them to participate in “Vista Classic” will return to school for in-person learning on Tuesday. About half of the student population in the district enrolled in the method while the other half will continue their education via distance learning.
Superintendent Matt Doyle said in a statement on Friday that Vista Classic was created after collaborating with the Vista Teachers Association. On Sept. 10, the school board approved a memorandum of understanding with the organization. He said the district has a “dual obligation to fulfill during these challenging times.”
“Our first obligation is to ensure a safe and healthy environment. To this end, we have carefully followed all of the requirements outlined in the California Department of Public Health guidelines,” Doyle continued in his statement. “Our second obligation is to ensure that all students have access to a high-quality learning environment and grade level standards. To that end, we are committed to following the requirements outlined in the Senate Bill 98 that specifically states that districts are required to provide classroom-based instruction where ever possible.”
According to the district's plan posted on its website, there will be enhanced sanitation, additional handwashing stations, specific entrances and exits, and students and staff will be required to wear masks.
Earlier this week, a group of teachers gathered to protest the reopening plan citing their concerns of the coronavirus pandemic. They said class sizes would not allow for adequate social distancing and Doyle admitted as much in a newsletter.
“Some of our teachers are going to have 39 kids in a room with, like, two aides in rooms that don’t have ventilation or windows that open,” one teacher said.
Doyle said in his statement that the school district will “continue to listen with understanding and empathy to teachers and staff.”