Give an Inch
Updated: Sep 21, 2020
On September 10th, the Coronado Unified School District administration outlined its planned return of students to campus whereby phase 2 would begin the week of October 5th with grades TK-1 showing up on campus simultaneous with moderate to mild special needs students and other elementary students requiring reading intervention. Exactly one week later, the administration unveiled a new plan that showed all elementary students going back the week of October 5 along with the other specific groups mentioned. What changed in that one-week period that justified more than doubling the number of grades going back on that date?
Most public health experts argue that when the spread of covidis low, then it is safe to return to school. But our case rate in San Diego (7.9%) is just on the edge of pushing us back into the most restrictive (because the infection is widespread) category. As a result, other school districts are delaying their in-person returns. That includes the La Mesa/Spring Valley schools that sent out a parent letter on September 15 sharing that they decided to delay their start date to November 30, at the earliest because of the published case rate of 7.9%.
What happened is that a majority of the school board members, none of whom have school aged children, pushed back in the earlier meeting – demanding that the administration get the maximum number of kids legally allowable into seats in CUSD quicker than planned. And so, the administration came back with a plan to expand the return on October 5 to include all students through grade 5.
Consequently, the plan (as it stands this week) is that TK-5 will return to campus following a hybrid AM/PM schedule (8 am-10:45 for morning and 12:15-3 for afternoon) where each student attends four half days per week on campus. The remaining time – each of the other half days and one full day – would consist of the same current “bridge” programming that the students have been following to date. The prior week’s plan for the return also of moderate to mild special needs and preschool would still obtain as well. Additionally, there was a more vague part of this week’s “plan” which was on-campus experiences for grades 6-12. During this upcoming phase, the administration suggested that electives such as KCMS and yearbook might fall into this category. It was not clear what else might. Then, Phase 3, which would begin near the end of October, also included only the vaguely worded grades 6-12 “on-campus experiences.”
Not happy to have gotten this concession of increasing the total number of grades attending from 3 to now 7, Trustee Lee Pontes wanted to know why CMS and CHS students couldn’t also go back sooner and said he was confused about why those campuses would sit empty. The superintendent tried to help him understand that there will be students in those buildings as well during this time and reminded him that there is also an issue of continuity of education that must be considered when bringing these students back to campus. Trustee Anderson Cruz pitched in, explaining that creating stable cohorts is far more complicated for students at CMS and CHS who each have sixteachers and who have class with varying groups of individuals.
Trustee Russell sided with Pontes, saying that “all of her family members” are attending high school in other locations in a hybrid “situation” and therefore she is not sure she is ok with the pace presented. She indicated irritation saying that the schools keep focusing on “safety, safety, safety,” and that was for her a “concern.”
Anderson Cruz countered: “For me, safety is not second to anything … We all want our kids back in school, but we want them back safely … Our job as trustees is not to be popular; it is to do what’s best for kids.” She said she felt comfortable with the pacing of the plan presented.
Trustee Simon flipped from her prior position and sided against Russell and Pontes while making the following extraordinary statement: “We can’t compare with Texas, Florida, or Arizona or people who are truly moving forward. We have to unfortunately live within the confines of California.” News Flash: Trustee Simon is not required to live in California. She could instead move to Texas, Florida or Arizona. Or, perhaps she might even consider Nevada since all of her vehicles appear to be plated there rather than in the state of California.
Several reminders for parents for the return to campus. 1. Students will not be tested prior to returning to campus; only staff will be. 2. Daily health monitoring, which consists of temperature checks will not be done on-site; parents are expected to provide a daily monitoring of students. 3. It is still not known what education for those who opt out of going to campus will look like once CMS and CHS students return. Most parents currently seem to assume that their children will simply continue with Bridge as they have been. However, unless the district can negotiate an agreement with the teachers to be on video camera for those students at home while teaching in the classroom to those on campus, that will not be possible. So, the district might have the at-home students do an on-line program with no real instruction.
Resident letters submitted to Coronado Electorate News & Commentary (CEN&C) are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of CEN&C. Submit letters to CoronadoElectorate@gmail.com