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Days per week of in-person instruction in SDUSD will depend on the school, number of students going to campus

A student boards a bus to go home after finishing a session in October as part of limited in-person learning.
A student boards a bus to go home after finishing a session in October as part of the San Diego Unified School District’s Phase 1 of reopening, which includes limited in-person learning for some students.
(File / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Though the ‘default’ schedule will be four days a week, six hours a day onsite, the actual number of in-person days will depend on how many students choose to return, according to an agreement between the district and its teachers union.

The number of days San Diego Unified School District students will be able to attend class in person once schools reopen the week of April 12 will depend on how many of their schoolmates also choose to return, according to an agreement between the district and its teachers union.

For example, a school where all families choose to return in person may be more likely to offer two days a week of in-person instruction for each student, but a school where only half of families choose to return to campus may be more likely to offer four days a week of in-person learning, according to union officials.

San Diego Unified announced March 14 that the “default” school schedule will be four days a week of onsite student attendance. District officials the next day refrained from saying exactly how many days a week most students can expect to attend school in person.

“Our expectation and our hope is to have students on campus as much as possible and as long as possible to mimic a regular school day and a regular school week,” said Nicole DeWitt, instructional officer for San Diego Unified.

Superintendent Cindy Marten said she knows that many families want full-time in-person instruction.

“The goal here is five days if families want it, and ... we’ve been hearing from families that they want that,” Marten said.

Preliminary tallies of a recent districtwide parent survey show that roughly 70 percent of families said they want students to return to school for in-person instruction, district spokeswoman Maureen Magee said.

San Diego Unified will offer families a choice of returning to school for hybrid instruction — part in person, part online — or staying home in distance learning. The district said schools will send details of their learning models to parents on Monday, March 22.

In addition to parent choices, in-person schedules will depend on how much classroom space schools have.

Schools will limit the number of students who can be at school at any one time in order to have at least five feet of distance between student chairs in classrooms, a requirement set in the union agreement.

The default school schedule will be six hours a day for students.

Elementary students are to get three hours of instruction in the morning, including a half-hour break, then two more hours in the afternoon, which will include at least one hour of activities such as tutoring, small-group instruction or other support, according to the agreement.

Middle and high school students will get three hours of instruction, plus an hour that will be used for office hours, small-group instruction or working with students while the rest of students work on their own, the agreement says.

At least three hours of instruction each day will involve teaching in-person students and online-only students simultaneously. It’s up to teachers to decide how they will do that, but teachers could, for example, teach Zoom lessons in their classroom or livestream a class.

For the part of the school day when students are not receiving direct instruction, they may participate in other school activities, such as PE, enrichment programs, clubs and sports, DeWitt said.

The components of the school day will mimic the distance-learning structure the district has been using this year, said Kisha Borden, president of the San Diego Unified teachers union.

“We wanted to make sure those students who were remaining online had consistency and there was some continuity in their schedule and their online learning,” Borden said. “So we didn’t want this transition to onsite for some students to disrupt or degrade the experience of the online-only students.”

The agreement also outlines coronavirus safety requirements that schools will follow.

For example, regular testing for the virus will be mandatory for staff members, regardless of whether they are showing symptoms. For students, testing will remain optional but highly encouraged.

All classrooms will have either a MERV-13 air filter installed or portable air purifiers to increase ventilation. The goal for all classrooms is to replace the air in the room at least five times each hour.

Masks will be required of all adults and all students 2 and older. The district says it will provide reasonable mask accommodations for students with disabilities.

The district may provide working accommodations for staff on a case-by-case basis, such as a work-from-home agreement, eliminating non-essential job duties and allowing leave time, according to the agreement.


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