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In-class or virtual? Poway parents have a big decision to make

Poway parents have until Saturday to choose whether to enroll their kids in virtual or in-class learning

POWAY, Calif. — Thousands of local families have to make a major decision when it comes to their children's education, and the deadline is looming. 

Poway Unified School District, which pushed back its start date to Sept. 2, is letting parents choose between in-class or virtual instruction for their kids. It's a choice they now must make by Saturday. 

For many Poway parents, they are still "doing their homework," weighing the pros and cons to decide whether to enroll their children in online or traditional classroom instruction

Thursday night, Poway Unified school leaders hosted a virtual town to address many of their questions, as the clock is ticking to make a decision.

"This has not been an easy process," said PUSD Superintendent Dr. Marian Kim Phelps.

It has clearly not been an easy process for Poway parents or for Poway Unified school leaders, who have come up with a back-to-school plan in the age of coronavirus.

"It is a tough process, everything you can imagine, from bus schedules to distributing lunches to master schedules to accommodating every child, every family, every teacher, every staff member," added Dr. Phelps.

It is tough for parents too, who have until Saturday to decide whether to enroll their kids in virtual learning or in-class instruction, once San Diego County falls off the county's watch list for at least 14 days.

"We have nearly 70% of our families that want their kids to come back on campus," Dr. Phelps said.

That on-campus experience will be different though because of the need to allow for physical distancing.

For elementary and middle schools, there will be an "a.m./p.m.model," which includes five days a week of instruction, with students either attending a morning or an afternoon session.

For Poway Unified high schools, there will be an "a/b model."  Under this plan, "Group a" students will be on campus two days a week, while "Group b" students will be on-campus on an alternate two days. All students will be engaged in independent or virtual study on days they're not on campus.

"I think both of my kids really want to go back," said Poway parent Corinna Kitchen. 

She has already made her choice to send her sixth-grader and 10th-grader back to class. Kitchen is also a kindergarten teacher in the district and said she is ready to return to her classroom as well.

"I think for myself and most teachers right now,  it's the anxiety of when we will start? What it's going to look like?" she told News 8. 

For many other parents who are still undecided, the decision may not be as clear-cut.

"I feel for them, it is a huge decision," Kitchen added. "I think the district  is working really hard to accommodate a lot of requests."

The decision parents make is not necessarily permanent: they will have the option to change their mind after the first grading period is completed.