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Point Loma and Ocean Beach schools make reopening plans for fall

San Diego Unified plans to offer a choice this fall among full in-person learning, distance learning or a combination.
The San Diego Unified School District plans to let families choose this fall from among full in-person learning, distance learning or a combination with options for onsite activities.
(File)

Point Loma and Ocean Beach public schools are making plans to reopen their campuses following the months-long closure and distance learning forced by the coronavirus pandemic.

The San Diego Unified School District board last month approved a fall reopening plan (bit.ly/sdusdreopenplan) that will let families choose from among on-campus learning, online instruction or a combination with voluntary onsite options. The district also announced that the 2020-21 school year will begin as previously scheduled on Monday, Aug. 31.

Distance-learning students would have four days a week of live and pre-recorded instruction and one day a week to catch up on assignments.

Onsite offerings for distance learners would include science labs, career technical courses, special-education services, teacher office hours, physical education, community college courses and internships.

For in-person instruction, San Diego Unified’s plan includes daily temperature checks for students and staff, maximizing ventilation, and surface disinfection daily and between uses by multiple groups.

The district also is considering methods for distancing such as physical barriers and staggered arrival times.

The San Diego County Office of Education added that schools should prepare as if masks will be mandatory for all students and staff on campus.

The state is providing the county with millions of masks to help ensure every student gets one. The county office said it would receive more than 1 million cloth masks, more than 1 million disposable masks, 99,000 disposable face shields and 12,300 gallon-size jugs of hand sanitizer.

Officials said schools will have to make drastic, and likely expensive, changes to scheduling, staffing and the use of school spaces to allow for physical distancing and provide flexibility and choice for parents.

Among the county’s suggestions — not mandates — are that schools could use spaces such as their gyms, libraries, cafeterias, theaters and outdoor tables as classrooms. They also could make agreements with groups such as the YMCA, libraries or churches to use community spaces for classes.

Schools also could open six or seven days a week to reduce the number of students on campus at a time. And they could extend the school day and have students go to school in shifts to allow for lower capacity.

“Schools have polled parents to get a sense of how they are leaning when it comes to their preferences for the 2020-21 school year — in-person instruction, online instruction or a combination model. Responses have shown a majority of parents favor sending their children back to school full time for in-person learning,” said Maureen Magee, communications director for San Diego Unified.

“Later in the summer, schools will give parents and guardians the chance to finalize their decisions about education choices for the 2020-21 school year and will share information about the district’s reopening plans,” Magee said.

Point Loma Cluster reopening plans

San Diego Unified’s Point Loma Cluster includes nine schools: Cabrillo, Dewey, Loma Portal, Ocean Beach, Silver Gate and Sunset View elementary schools, Correia and Dana middle schools and Point Loma High School.

Scott Irwin, principal of Dana Middle School on Chatsworth Boulevard in Point Loma, spoke to the Point Loma-OB Monthly representing all schools in the Point Loma Cluster. He said that while the reopening plan has been distributed to SDUSD schools and will be strictly followed, some details still need to be hashed out.

“Many times, my [students’] parents ask me specifics, like they’ll say, ‘How many kids are going to be in my child’s PE class?’ … ‘If my child does virtual learning, will he have the exact same amount of homework as he has when he’s in brick and mortar?’ or “Will the teacher be the same?’ and ‘If my child starts on Monday in a math class and then switches on Tuesday to virtual, will it be the same teacher?’ Those are the kinds of detailed questions that I get asked, and frankly, I just don’t have those [answers] right now.”

Dana and Correia middle schools and Point Loma High operate with a six-period school day, he said, so they likely will have similar reopening plans.

Gov. Gavin Newsom shares a moment with Principal Scott Irwin after a tour of Dana Middle School in Point Loma on Feb. 28.
Gov. Gavin Newsom shares a moment with Principal Scott Irwin after a tour of Dana Middle School in Point Loma on Feb. 28.
(File)

Principal Mark Morici of Loma Portal Elementary School on Browning Street in Point Loma said there may be more opportunity for organization at the six elementary schools, considering that students aren’t moving among classes six times a day.

“We’ll most likely have our students with one teacher during the day,” Morici said. “We’ll put some steps in place to make sure those kids are distanced as much as possible throughout the day.”

“Again, there’s no set-in-concrete plans just yet, but what I’m assuming is that we’ll stagger lunch times so we’re not going to have 100 students out there eating lunch at once,” he added. “We might have to do it class by class or even more so, like 10 students at a time or something like that. We’ll most likely stagger start and end times, so again we don’t want 400 students arriving to school at a time.”

He said Point Loma Cluster schools will do their best to use outdoor areas for learning experiences.

Irwin said some parents at Dana Middle School are ready to send their children back to the classrooms, while others hesitate.

“It is true that we have some families who want their kids back in school five days a week full time,” Irwin said. “And it is true that we have some families that are saying, ‘I don’t necessarily feel comfortable sending my child back to school at this time.’ So what the district has committed to doing is saying we want to support both of those scenarios. So how are we going to create a flexible structure to make that happen?”

According to SDUSD’s poll of parents:

  • Almost 59 percent of the respondents said they were planning to send their children to school for full-time on-campus learning.
  • More than 30 percent preferred online learning combined with some onsite options.
  • About 10 percent were planning for online learning exclusively.

To read updates, visit sandiegounified.org/newscenter.

Irwin added that feedback from staff, parents and students in Point Loma Cluster schools showed that overall, students prefer to be able to engage with their teachers in real time and have live conversations.

“We know that, and as we’re working with the district, we’re trying to figure out how are we going to make sure that if a family does choose the virtual model next year that their children have access to that kind of support?” Irwin said.

He said he wants parents to know that Point Loma Cluster schools will be following state public health guidelines for reopening schools to ensure safety for students, teachers and families.

“Safety is No. 1,” he said. “We can worry about our math instruction, but we have to make sure if kids are at Dana Middle School that they’re in a safe environment. ... We know that has to happen before you can have conversations about the rigor of instruction and whatnot.”


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