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CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8 | cbs8.com

Parents in the San Dieguito Union High School District rally to reopen schools

The district, which includes only middle and high schools, said last week it will continue distance learning through the second quarter of the 2020-2021 school year.

ENCINITAS, Calif. — Parents in the San Dieguito Union High School District rallied Thursday to push the district to reopen its schools. 

They marched to the district office in Encinitas while holding posters that called for SDUHSD Superintendent Robert Haley and the Board of Trustrees to come up with a plan to bring students back on campus. 

Last week, the school board voted to extend distance learning through the second quarter of the 2020-2021 school year. Parents say that's too long to wait.

"We just want our schools back open, want our kids to get back into the classroom and basically get a good education," said parent Jason Daniels.

He said the school district is not considering the emotional impact distance learning is having on many children. 

"Multiple times, my kids have been upset, depressed, and we have to talk them through it and the district doesn't take that into account with these closures," Daniels said. 

The frustrated parents are asking board members to hold a special meeting to discuss reopening schools safely and give parents a choice of either on-campus or distance learning.

Organizers of the rally say 20 districts in San Diego County are planning to open in the next few weeks. 

"I have a child in the Encinitas Elementary District who's back two days a week," said Brooke Stamatis. 

She said neighboring districts are bringing students back, including some high schools. 

"Our district needs to put forth the effort to put together a plan to bring these kids back. Their only plan thus far is they'll figure it out at the end of January and that is not serving the kids at all."

SDUHSD has started to bring special needs and at-risk students back on campus, but they haven't released a roll out plan for more students to return. The district includes only middle and high schools. Students from five different elementary school districts in North County feed into SDUHSD.

News 8 received the following response to the rallies from SDUHSD Communications Coordinator Miquel Jacobs: 

"We are aware of protests being organized here and around San Diego County. Dr. Haley understands and shares the frustration with our situation and protesting is a way of expressing frustration. Our focus is on implementing the actions taken by our Board of Trustees, therefore we are continuing to move forward bringing more students on our campuses as we progress through the first quarter. We are connected to all of the San Diego County school districts with secondary schools as we all face the same barriers for maintaining our base instructional model while following the California Department of Public Health Mandates and Guidelines. Below is communication that went out to our school community last night:

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September 23, 2020
Subject: Second Quarter Update

Dear San Dieguito Union High School District Community,

In opening the 2020-21 school year, our focus was on implementing our Distance Learning Model with daily live interaction and instruction. This was done with an understanding of the action taken by the Board of Trustees on July 30, 2020. Since that action was taken in July, there have not been any changes in the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Mandate and Guidelines for K-12 Schools, therefore, the Board of Trustees voted at its Board Meeting on September 17, 2020, to continue the Distance Learning Model during the second quarter.

Our website has the most current information and includes resources regarding how we are moving forward. Our Safe Reopening Plan is posted there, which includes all of the measures we are taking to ensure the safety of our students, families, staff, and community as we return to campus. Each school has developed plans and will be communicating with students and parents about how we will increase student access to our campuses consistent with the action taken by the Board of Trustees.

It is understood fully by the Board of Trustees and staff, that not all of the California Department of Public Health Guidance for K-12 schools read as mandates. In making our decisions, we consult with the San Diego County Public Health Officer and her staff, the San Diego County Office of Education, and our liability insurer. 

We are connected to every school district in San Diego County to monitor their plans.  We understand that some elementary schools have opened, however, among other things, the instructional delivery model with one teacher with one set of students, allows them to comply with the CDPH guidelines. In networking with secondary schools across the state we have found that we are all facing the same barriers in trying to reopen in compliance with CDPH guidelines.  A number of them are modeling their reopening plans after our Distance Learning Model, which includes increased on-campus connectedness for our students.

We know that distance learning is an interruption to how we teach our students and how they learn. We know the toll this is taking on our families and communities. We know it is not ideal  and we look forward to the day when we can return everyone to our campuses.

Robert Haley
Superintendent
Committed to the Future

Beth Hergesheimer
Board President

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According to the district's website, SDUHSD serves students from five elementary school districts in North County: Encinitas, Rancho Santa Fe, Cardiff, Solana Beach, and Del Mar. Students from those districts matriculate through our middle schools and high schools, with the exception of those from the Rancho Santa Fe School District, who begin here as freshmen. 

The following schools are part of SDUHSD: Canyon Crest Academy, Carmel Valley Middle School, Diegueno Middle School, Earl Warren Middle School, La Costa Canyon High School, Oak Crest Middle School, Pacific Trails Middle School, San Dieguito HS Academy, Sunset High School, and Torrey Pines High School.