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

San Diego Unified announces Phase 2 planned reopening dates

The district said Phase 2 will open in-person learning to all elementary students & staff under a split schedule to promote social distancing.

SAN DIEGO — San Diego Unified held a press conference on Tuesday to announce new details regarding reopening schools. 

Board of Education President Dr. John Lee Evans said the district hopes to implement on-campus learning with large numbers of elementary school students coming on campus following winter break on Jan. 4. Similar to the first phase, Phase 2 would then grow to include middle and high school students, on Jan. 25, to coincide with the start of the third quarter. He said this timing was chosen to minimize any disruption academically.

“We are concerned by the continued spread of the virus in San Diego County but encouraged by the work of our educators and other employees to keep students safe at this difficult time,” Evans said. “Therefore, I believe it is important that we continue working towards a January start for Phase 2, even as we continue to monitor public health conditions and adjust. We will not hesitate to make any changes in this plan we deem necessary for the health and safety of our students, staff and community.”

"Safety has been our strategy from the very start," said SDUSD Superintendent Cindy Marten. 

District officials said in order to allow more kids onto its campuses, they must first ensure Phase 1, which started Oct. 13, continues to be a success. Elementary school teachers returned to campus to provide appointment-based, in-person instruction for students with the greatest needs under Phase 1 of reopening. The district said it hopes to expand Phase 1 to provide appointment-based, in-person instruction for secondary students grades 6-12 and children in the infant/toddler and early-learning programs.

As of Tuesday, no COVID cases had been reported during this initial step, which has included 4,000 kids attending appointment-based classes.

Also, the county must stay out of the purple tier for Phase 2 to begin.

A group of parents held a rally outside SDUSD's central office on Tuesday after the announcement of the Phase 2 plan:

The district says its reopening plan is based on safety guidelines that were designed by a team of scientists from UC San Diego.

“We know behind every student, behind every educator eager to return to the classroom, there is a family worried about the safety of their loved ones. That is why our reopening plans are centered on the health, safety and wellbeing of our students, staff and families,” Marten said.

In outlining details of the future reopening phases, the district announced Phase 2 will open up in-person learning to all elementary students and staff under a split schedule designed to facilitate social distancing.

"Phase 2 will have our elementary students between a.m. and p.m. sessions to allow social distancing with fewer students in the classroom," said Evans. "Middle and high school sessions will attend two days in-person to reduce the number of students in each classroom, but in both cases, families will have the option of distance learning if the students or family members are medically fragile." 

Beyond that, Phase 3 will allow all students to attend in-person classes four days a week, with afternoon hours for secondary schools dedicated to flex time.

Finally, in Phase 4, all students would be allowed back five days a week.

"We are not talking about the dates for Phases 3 and 4 because that's a full return to school and much more needs to be done," said Evans.

Recently, San Diego Unified announced the purchase of $45 million in personal protective equipment (PPE) and other safety upgrades, including air filters, desk shields and hand sanitizing stations. The district has received some 200,000 masks in child and adult sizes from the state, along with 14,000 bottles of hand sanitizer.

The district is also working on a testing program giving students and staff access to COVID tests at every school site.

The news comes as pressure from families wanting schools to reopen continues to grow. Despite that, district leaders are not willing to rush the process, saying they want to do it right.

"We know this is frustrating, but we have to follow the science," said SDUSD Board Vice President Richard Barrera. 

The full press conference can be seen here

Phase 2 breaks down like as follows:

  • Elementary (Pre-K to 5th grade) students would return to campus four days a week. Students would be split into two cohorts for either an a.m. session or p.m. session in order to safely rotate students into classrooms. Elementary students would receive in-person instruction Monday through Thursday. Fridays would be set aside for “live” online check-ins and independent asynchronous learning.
  • Secondary (6th to 12th grade) students would return to campus two days a week. Students would be split into two cohorts, with Cohort 1 attending on Mondays and Tuesdays and Cohort 2 attending on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Fridays would be dedicated to online learning for all students. Secondary students would follow a similar bell schedule with morning minutes dedicated to class period instruction and afternoon minutes would be dedicated to flex time for asynchronous learning or appointment-based services.

The details on all four phases of reopening can be seen below.


Expansion of Phase 1

  • Expansion of Phase 1 appointment-based program for secondary students grades 6-12 and educators
  • Expansion of Phase 1 appointment-based program for infant/toddler and early-learning programs and educators.

Phase 2

  • Elementary (Pre-K to 5th grade) students would return to campus four days a week. Students would be split into two cohorts for either an a.m. session or p.m. session in order to safely rotate students into classrooms. Elementary students would receive in-person instruction Monday through Thursday. Fridays would be set aside for “live” online check-ins and independent asynchronous learning.
  • Secondary (6th to 12th grade) students would return to campus two days a week. Students would be split into two cohorts, with Cohort 1 attending on Mondays and Tuesdays and Cohort 2 attending on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Fridays would be dedicated to online learning for all students. Secondary students would follow a similar bell schedule with morning minutes dedicated to class period instruction and afternoon minutes would be dedicated to flex time for asynchronous learning or appointment-based services.

    Phase 3
  • Elementary (Pre-K to 5th grade) students would attend classes on-site four days a week Monday through Thursday. Fridays would be set aside for “live” online check-ins and independent asynchronous learning.
  • Secondary (6th-12th grade) students would attend classes on-site four days a week, Monday through Thursday. Fridays would be set aside for online learning. Morning minutes would continue to be dedicated to class-period instruction and afternoon minutes would be dedicated to flex time.

    Phase 4
  • Elementary (Pre-K to 5th grade) students would attend five days a week with one modified day
  • Secondary (6th to 12th grade) students would attend five days a week. Morning minutes would continue to be dedicated to class-period instruction and afternoon minutes would be dedicated to flex time.