Encinitas schools add more in-person learning days

Students in a classroom at Carmel Valley Middle School on the first day return to school.
Students in a classroom at Carmel Valley Middle School on the first day return to school.
(Miquel Jacobs)

Local school districts in Encinitas will begin to welcome students back more days now that San Diego County has moved into the less restrictive red tier.

In the Encinitas Union School District, students will be returning to five days a week after spring break on April 12. Since the fall, Encinitas students have attended school in-person two days a week in a hybrid model.

The Cardiff School District will return to full days on April 14. At Cardiff and Ada Harris Schools, students had been attending school in morning and afternoon cohorts. On April 14, the cohorts will merge to form one single, stable group that will not mix with other classes.

“We are all especially grateful to all of our families for your invaluable partnership this year during our hybrid model,” wrote Superintendent Jill Vinson in a message to families. “It is exciting to think about having classes come together after months of operating as morning and afternoon cohorts, and we have been working hard to plan for this safely.”

The San Dieguito Union High School District expanded its reopening from one to two days a week starting March 22. For many students, returning to school on March 16 was their first time back on campus this school year and for some freshman and seventh graders, their first day at their new school.

“I’m just so happy and excited for those who are able to go back on campus,” said Cassie Miller, the student board representative for San Dieguito Academy at the board’s March 18 meeting.

The district was able to allow students who wished to return back to school starting on March 16 due to the judge’s ruling in the Parent Association lawsuit against the state’s reopening rules but San Dieguito had planned to expand reopening as soon as the county went into the red tier for five days—the county moved into the red tier on March 17.

Students who have selected in-person learning are able to attend classes in-person two consecutive days per week and learn from home three days per week.

Cohorts are grouped by last names and students attend school on their assigned days. Some teachers have short-term accommodations that allow them to teach from home. Those classrooms with teachers at home have a substitute teacher in the physical classroom for supervision.

“I want to thank our staff for their hard work this year,” SDUHSD President Mo Muir said in a statement at the March 18 board meeting. “They have worked to create something that has never been done before, and have done an amazing job with this transition.”

SDUHSD board members and Superintendent Robert Haley were on campuses to help welcome students back to school last week. The board members spoke about seeing hope, happy tears and excitement among the students. SDUHSD Trustee Michael Allman said he received several thank you texts from parents including one who said her son’s smile was “so big it reached beyond his mask”.

“We are going to make a big difference in a lot of children’s lives,” Allman said of the board’s direction to expand to two days a week.

Principal Mary Anne Nuskin
Principal Mary Anne Nuskin helps a student perform their COVID symptom check-in on the first day return to school at Pacific Trails Middle School.
(Miquel Jacobs)

During public comment, some parents requested a return to full time in-person learning five days a week immediately and for a commitment for all students of the district to be in-person with a full-time schedule for the 2021-2022 school year. Other parents encouraged the district not to rush expanding reopening but continue taking a measured approach that keeps all students and staff safe.

The board is scheduled to discuss the plans for the rest of the school year as well as the coming school year at a special meeting on March 24 (after press time for this edition).

On-campus learners are not required to come to campus on their designated day and have the option to learn from home. At San Dieguito Academy for the week of March 15-19, there were 524 students participating in-person school each day and 1,481 in distance learning. At La Costa Canyon there were 488 students on campus each day and 1,255 in distance learning.

At the middle school level, Diegueno Middle has 376 students in-person with 541 at home, Oak Crest Middle has 340 students on campus and 461 in distance learning.

Due to Sunset High’s small size at the Requeza Educational Center, 77 students have been able to return in-person for several months, with 103 remaining in distance learning.

“As each day goes by and families become more comfortable and/or are more knowledgeable about the option to return, numbers do tend to trend upwards on a weekly basis,” said Miquel Jacobs, the district’s communications coordinator.

Students check-in with permission slips at Torrey Pines High School on the first day return to school.
Students check-in with permission slips at Torrey Pines High School on the first day return to school.

(Miquel Jacobs)