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Proposal made to allow waivers for in-person learning in San Diego Unified School District

Councilmember Chris Cate is proposing SDUSD consider a waiver to allow schools to teach in-person once the county is off the state's monitoring list for 14 days.

SAN DIEGO — A proposal to put students back in the classroom under a waiver will be put forth in front of the San Diego Unified School board on Tuesday.

Under City Councilmember Chris Cate’s proposal, he is asking the board to consider a waiver that would allow schools to open on campus once the county is off the state’s monitoring list for 14 consecutive days.

"There are some neighborhoods in San Diego where 50% of the families did not log on for distance learning [during the spring]. That is a huge issue," said Councilmember Chris Cate.

Under Governor Newsom’s education plan he has ordered schools in counties on the state monitoring list to start online however schools can ask for a waiver.

Local county health officials can grant the waiver after considering local COVID-19 numbers and spread, and consulting with state public health officials.

Cate outlined both in-person and distance learning proposals.

There are five recommendations under in-person learning proposals that include: waivers, open-air classrooms, staggered start times either by grade levels or alphabetically to be in line with siblings. 

"We've tried to do the same thing with the city whether it be barbershops and salons or outdoor dining. We want to take advantage, not only our good climate, but our parks," said Cate.

Cate is also proposing a homeschool stipend and in-class assistance such as hiring young college graduates in the classroom and teachers can remain at home teaching virtually.

"We just have to be creative and think outside the box and how to best do that," said Cate. "We are not forcing anybody, we are not forcing any parent to put their kids back into school."

A spokesperson for County Board of Education said it's surveying districts to get a sense of which ones are interested in a waiver. It expects to hear details this week from the state and local public health officials on the process of requesting a waiver.

RELATED: Waiver could exempt California elementary schools from distance learning

The Poway Unified School District sent parents a questionnaire including a FAQ that talked about waivers and wrote, “PUSD is exploring this option and has asked the San Diego County Office of Education for clarification from the public health department regarding how school districts would apply for a waiver and what requirements would need to be met.”

Cate plans to submit the proposal during the school board meeting under public comment. The board cannot take any action. 

“District 6 residents are served by two school districts, seven high schools, eight middle schools, and 24 elementary schools. As a father myself, I understand the struggle families are going through right now with ensuring their children are receiving a quality education. As legislators, we must ensure we provide as many options as possible, therefore, allowing parents to make the best decision for their family, and their children,” stated Cate in a news release.

Click here for a list of local school district’s plans for the fall.

RELATED: San Diego County parents creating 'student pods' and hiring teachers as substitute for virtual learning

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