Rory Devine

‘We're Going to Get Whiplash': School Reopenings Under Purple Tier Causes Confusion

State and County disagree on what purple tier means for school reopenings

NBC Universal, Inc.

Frustration is at an all-time high for parents and students hoping to go back to school for in-person learning as San Diego County inches closer to increasing restrictions once again. 

The state said if a county moves to the more restrictive Tier 1, also known as the purple tier on the state's color-coded reopening system, schools that have not reopened yet, may not reopen as planned. The purple tier means the coronavirus is widespread, a situation in San Diego being blamed on at outbreak among students at San Diego State University.

That news was tough to hear for one parent from the Poway Unified School District, which announced plans to send elementary students back for in-person learning as soon as October 1.

“I think we’re all starting to feel like we’re going to get whiplash now,” said Jessica McClure-Kuhar, who was skeptical about schools reopening given the threat of the county moving to the purple tier.  “I was hopeful, I think we were all hopeful.”   

The county had told districts if they were still doing distance learning, even if the county moves to the purple tier, they could still reopen when ready to do so.  According to the state guidelines though, if the county goes to purple, the earliest a school could reopen if it has not already reopened, is five weeks from Tuesday, putting the earliest date at October 28.

This is clearly a change in the direction at the state level

Mike Workman San Diego County Spokesperson

In a text to NBC 7, county spokesperson Mike Workman wrote, “This is clearly a change in direction at the state level.  There was no prior briefing or discussion with the state about the change...We are seeking clarification.”

Some San Diego County schools have already resumed in-person classes and others don't plan to anytime soon, but some districts had set campus return dates in late September and October.

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