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Following backlash, San Diego Unified schools will be open Friday

Last week, the district proposed canceling classes for a "mental health day" but parents complained they wouldn't have enough time to figure out childcare.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — School will be in session for San Diego Unified School District students Friday, despite a proposal to take the day off for a mental health day.

The district emailed families about their plan last Thursday, but then backed off after parents complained they didn't have enough time to figure out childcare.

"It would have been great if it would have been on the calendar from the beginning. The parents I talked to all felt like 'here we go again' with just that regular stress of trying to manage childcare,” said parent Jen Boynton.

Parent Rachel Rothman had a similar reaction.

"My working schedule is flexible but I felt like 'how could they do this to all these parents who are not going to be able to find childcare one week in advance?' And I also felt bad for the teachers who just found out about it too. Are they changing plans?"

After hearing parents’ concerns, the district backtracked saying all schools will be open.

"You know the feedback from a lot of parents was they appreciated the concept of a mental health day, but they wouldn't have time to rearrange their schedules, particularly their work schedule," said SDUSD Board President, Richard Barrera.

Questions still remain about what was really behind the day off proposal.

Barrera notes while mental health played a huge role, when asked, he did acknowledge staff shortages had something to do with it as well, with many teachers expected to take Friday off and not enough subs to go around.

"It is very difficult to replace that number of staff absences with subs," said Barrera.

Many parents say the district should have planned ahead, and been more transparent.

As for what Friday will look like, it varies by school.

Most teachers have been told to focus on fun activities or workshops, rather than new material.

Depending on the number of staff available, classrooms may merge.

Any student who does not attend school will be granted an excused absence.

Jen Boynton said it's a good solution and will be sending her second grader off to school.

"I think they came to a nice compromise after the debacle."

Rachel Rothman has the day off and is undecided.

As for the state funding schools get for attendance per pupil, Barrera said it's based on average attendance, not one day, so he does not believe the district will lose money if students choose to stay home.

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