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All San Diego County schools can re-open on September 1 if they choose to

Waivers are being suspended and schools' safety reopening plans do not need to be approved but do need to be submitted.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — In less than a week, schools in San Diego County will be able to re-open.

In a virtual briefing on Tuesday with educators, County Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said school waivers are being suspended since COVID-19 cases are expected to stay below 100 per 100,000 by next week and all schools in the county can re-open starting Sept. 1.

“Next Tuesday all schools K-12 will be allowed to reopen if they choose to,” said Wooten.

San Diego Unified School District will start on Monday, Aug. 31 and online learning remains in place. Although it made a joint decision with Los Angeles Unified to start online, no joint announcements to re-open are planned.

“We’re following the metrics for reopening schools that were developed in collaboration with UCSD experts specifically for San Diego Unified,” said SDUSD spokesperson Maureen Magee.

Maranatha Christian Schools in 4S Ranch applied for a waiver but told parents on Tuesday that is no longer needed and they will start in-person classes on Sept. 8.

“I'm super excited because distance learning was not fun and it's gonna be great to be in person with my teachers and ask questions,” said incoming Maranatha junior Alana Cadaing.

Her father said he trusts the school will be safe.

“They are putting a lot of precautions in place so they are going to follow all the guidelines necessary so we are comfortable. We trust the leadership of the schools,” said David Cadaing.

Cadaing's younger daughter, Chloe, will be a freshman at Westview High School in Poway Unified School District.

“I would rather go back because it's harder for me to focus online,” said Chloe Cadaing.

Poway Unified will start virtually on Sept. 2 but the school board will meet on Sept. 10 to discuss reopening in phases starting with elementary schools, then middle schools and high schools at the end of a grading period which is in November.

“I want to be prepared and not rushed to go back because there are a lot more kids to watch over,” said Chloe Cadaing.

A spokesperson for Sweetwater Union High said with COVID-19 significantly impacting the South Bay, distance learning will remain through at least Oct. 2. A determination of what happens beyond that date will be made by Sep. 21 and shared with the school community.

At Chula Vista Elementary School District, online learning remains slated to start on Aug. 31. However, the district is starting an in-school academic enrichment program tentatively scheduled for Sept. 8 for the children of essential workers (including staff), homeless and foster youth.

Dr. Wooten said even if COVID-19 cases increase, not drastically, schools could stay open.

“Once schools open, if even if the state or rather the jurisdiction goes back on the monitoring list, [based on] the information I know today schools would not close, they would continue,” said Wooten.

That worries Poway Unified parent and teacher Jennifer Ferguson who has two children with cystic fibrosis.

“I feel there are cases lurking like with all the colleges opening up and they have a spike in cases. I feel that will happen here and I don’t want the students to be guinea pigs and staff as well,” said Ferguson.

San Ysidro School District already started and has three phases for re-opening. Phase I which includes a Distance Learning Academy for all students will continue through the end of September.  Phase II which begins in October will allow for optional virtual tutoring, possible limited childcare and support for more vulnerable populations of students such as special education.  The district will determine when Phase III or the addition of a Blended Learning Program option begins in consultation with the county health department based on regional COVID data.  The district will discuss potential launch date/s for Phase III during the September 10 board meeting. 

Credit: San Ysidro School District