2 private schools in Point Loma-OB get county waiver approval to reopen
The Community School of San Diego in Ocean Beach and the Rock Academy in Point Loma are among 27 San Diego County schools that have received county approval to reopen in-person instruction for elementary grades, having obtained waivers from the state school closure mandate prompted by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
All the schools approved so far are private, except for one school district, the small Rancho Santa Fe district.
Point Loma’s Warren-Walker School also is on the list of 95 waiver applications the county had received as of Aug. 19, though it wasn’t on the approval list issued that day or Aug. 20.
Schools can apply for waivers to open for transitional kindergarten through sixth grade. Each waiver takes five business days to be reviewed by the county and state for a variety of criteria, such as current county COVID-19 data and whether the school consulted with parents, community members and staff.
The waivers may not matter so much, however, if San Diego County maintains its progress at lowering its coronavirus case rate.
All public and private schools in a county are allowed to reopen if the county gets off the state’s COVID-19 watch list and keeps its case rate at or below 100 per 100,000 people for two consecutive weeks.
San Diego County was removed from the watch list Aug. 18, starting a 14-day waiting period before all K-12 schools can resume in-person instruction.
State rules say that schools granted waivers can’t reopen until at least two weeks after the date they applied for a waiver. The county received its first waiver applications early last week.
The Community School, also known as Pioneer Programs, applied to reopen kindergarten through sixth grade. The proposed reopening date was Tuesday, Sept. 8.
The school serves students with exceptional needs who don’t “really benefit from online instruction,” Chief Executive A.J. Genovese said Aug. 20.
“For most of our students, it’s not going to be possible for them to sit in front of the computer for 240 minutes per day,” Genovese said.
Genovese said the Community School plans to welcome students in groups of six to eight “split evenly between days” and is “patiently waiting for new guidance as to when we can bring back all our students again.”
According to the application, all students and staff will be required to wear face masks.
Families will be provided the option to continue distance learning “if they feel it’s best for the safety of their child and/or household [or] if a student is unable to physically come to campus,” the application stated.
The Rock Academy at Liberty Station, which began the school year Aug. 10 with online learning, applied to reopen for kindergarten through sixth grade and provide all students the option to continue online instruction. Head of School Chuck Leslie said the elementary grades are expected to return to campus Monday, Aug. 31.
“We’re thrilled to have students back on campus for in-person learning,” Leslie said. “It’s obviously the best way to teach kids. The younger they are, the harder it is to do online.”
The school’s application said students and staff will be given health screenings upon arrival at school, and students will be divided into cohorts of no more than 14 who remain together throughout the school day. Classroom desks will be separated by six feet and arranged to minimize face-to-face contact.
Face coverings will be required for third-graders and up and encouraged for younger students, the application stated.
“We’re very conscientious we need to keep our kids and our staff safe during this pandemic,” Leslie said. “We’re complying with [all] regulations to operate.”
To view schools’ approved waiver applications and reopening plans, visit the county’s COVID-19 K-12 website.