Poway Unified School District is preparing to reopen middle and high schools on March 15, following San Diego County approval of the district’s appeal.
Supt. Marian Kim Phelps announced the approval last Friday. The district submitted its Safety Review Request to the county on Feb. 18. The appeal, if approved by the state, will allow PUSD to reopen its middle and high schools despite the county not being out of the red tier.
With county approval, PUSD’s appeal has been forwarded to the California Department of Public Health. The CDPH has seven business days, or until Tuesday, to approve or deny PUSD’s application, Phelps said.
The schools are preparing to reopen with the concurrent learning model developed in PUSD over the past few months, Phelps said. This includes two days of on-campus learning plus two days of virtual learning in A and B cohorts. Teachers will instruct students in-person and virtually at the same time. Fridays will be asynchronous, Phelps said. An asynchronous day is an independent learning day without structured classroom time, either virtual or in-person. Families will receive specific information about Friday education from their school sites this week.
Phelps said with San Diego County COVID-19 case rates falling, returning to the red tier is within sight. This would remove the need for the reopening appeal. “Either way, we have positioned ourselves to ensure that we will be able to reopen as soon as we are able to,” Phelps said.
She also said while San Diego County began vaccinating K-12 teachers and staff on Saturday, it is focusing on schools and districts in areas with the highest COVID-19 rates. PUSD does not fall into this category. It was previously announced by the county that schools which had already reopened, like PUSD, would be vaccinated first, she added. “While we share this disappointment, we also know that vaccination developments and supply levels are changing by the day, and we continue to advocate for our PUSD staff to be prioritized,” Phelps said.
Phelps said she and board members have been working with Supervisor Nathan Fletcher and Supt. Paul Gothold of the San Diego County Office of Education to ensure PUSD teachers are among the first vaccinated.
“We are still hopeful this advocacy will allow us to be moved toward the front of the line,” Phelps said. “PUSD families can also help, by emphasizing the need to vaccinate our staff with our local county leaders.”
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