By Christine Huard
The Rancho Santa Fe School District is working to bring the majority of its students back to the classroom at the start of the school year with a waiver that allows in-person instruction of children in Kindergarten through Grade 6.
Currently, the state will only allow San Diego County schools to offer students distance learning as long as the county’s high COVID-19 case rate has the region on a monitoring list. Local public health officials said San Diego County would need to have 240 or fewer cases per day for two weeks to meet the case rate metic of 100 per 100,000 residents and be removed from the watchlist. After 14 additional days of “good data,” the county can reopen schools for in-person instruction.
As of Monday, the county’s case rate per 100,000 was 101.2. That leaves little chance of the county being removed from the watchlist in time for schools to start the new school year with students on campus.
Pushing to get as many as possible of its roughly 550 students back to school, trustees of the North County K-8 school district authorized Superintendent Donna Tripi to apply for the waiver at a July 30 special board meeting. The green light came right after the governing board unanimously approved the district’s COVID-19 Prevention Plan for Schools, as well as video technology to help teachers with online lessons and enhance distance learning for students.
The criteria necessary for applying for a waiver was released by the state last week. County public health officials hold the authority to approve or deny the requests based on community epidemiological data and other factors.
According to the criteria, Tripi is free to submit the waiver application after she has consulted with labor, parents and community-based organizations, and posted the district’s school reopening plan on the district website.
It is not clear whether Rancho Santa Fe has submitted the waiver application. Inquiries made by email Tuesday to the county and the superintendent’s office have not yet been answered.
Meantime, the district has been busy preparing Rowe School to be physically open, however. Excess furniture has been removed from classrooms to allow for six feet of space between desks and learning space has been created outdoors.
The district’s reopening plan calls for for a number of safety procedures, including: social distancing; self-contained classes of stable cohorts; minimized contact at school between students, staff, families and the community at the beginning, during, and end of the school day; new health and hygiene protocols that include screening staff each day on campus; and providing staff with face coverings, which are mandatory, as well as face shields and gloves. Students are also required to wear a face covering.
Regardless of whether a waiver is granted, the district is prepared to start the new school year Aug. 24 with a distance learning program for all students.
— City News Service contributed to this report.
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