Poway Unified distributes laptops to students as the district shifts to online learning amid the coronavirus pandemic. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

San Diego Unified is preparing a “soft launch” of its online learning plan by Monday.

The new online learning system will officially launch on April 27. That’s when graded work will begin. In the meantime, educators will be learning the new systems and working with their students to the extent they can.

VOSD’s Ashly McGlone and Will Huntsberry have details about the learning plan in a new story.

District officials will create new learning objectives, which are significantly reduced compared with traditional common core standards. Officials hope they will be able to expand the school year by several weeks or offer an expanded version of summer school.

Teachers will be able to choose from one of three levels to deliver an online curriculum and student grades will only be able to go up, not down.

But there are still concerns over special education services, which will not be delivered to the same extent they were before schools shut down.

Attorneys Sound Alarm Over Federal Detainees

Federal defense attorneys say prosecutors are still pushing to detain people who are awaiting trial, even those accused of nonviolent crimes, amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Federal Defenders of San Diego Inc. sent a letter to Sen. Kamala Harris, asking for her assistance in compelling prosecutors to minimize the number of people in jails, VOSD’s Maya Srikrishnan reports.

“As cases of COVID-19 begin to spread throughout jails in Southern California, we are concerned that the USAO is not recognizing a ticking time bomb,” the organization’s executive director wrote to Harris. “Phone calls and emails with our clients indicate that they are concerned about unsanitary and crowded conditions.”

Inmates describe overcrowding in some of the facilities – in some cases sleeping more than 25 people to a room – and lack of hygienic products, like hand sanitizer, according to court documents.

The GEO Group, a private prison company that runs one of the facilities, pushed back against allegations, saying they are unfounded and instigated by groups with political agendas.

One federal prosecutor, who is a Trump judicial nominee for a U.S. district court seat, has said that people would actually be safer from the coronavirus in detention facilities, Srikrishnan reports.

Local Agencies Won’t Disclose Public Records During Coronavirus Crisis

Transparency and access to public information is arguably more important than ever, but as VOSD’s Ashly McGlone reports, many agencies across the county have decided not to fulfill requests for public records until the coronavirus crisis eases.

In response to a request from VOSD seeking information about how local governments mobilized to address the crisis, “57 out of 83 agencies responded to VOSD’s March 20 request saying the virus would delay their response,” McGlone reports. “Most indicated the request would not be processed until the emergency orders from the governor were lifted or normal business resumes at some unknown date in the future. Another 10 agencies didn’t respond after two weeks, other than a couple that sent autoreplies.”

Latest Coronavirus Updates

As of Thursday, there are 966 known coronavirus cases in the county. Officials also announced the death of a 98-year-old woman, bringing the region’s death toll to 16.

More than 570 cases, about 59 percent of patients, are between the ages of 20 and 49. About 19 percent of patients – 181 people – have been hospitalized, and about 7 percent – 70 people – of patients have required intensive care.

San Diego County officials also announced several new public health orders:

  • All employees who may have contact with the public in any grocery store, pharmacy or drugstore, convenience store or gas station will have to wear a cloth face covering effective midnight Saturday, April 4.
  • All businesses that remain open must prepare a social distancing and sanitation protocol by April 7.
  • All public parks and recreation areas, including public beaches, will close their parking lots and shall only be accessible by members of the public within walking distance. People will only be able to walk or bike in those areas and cannot congregate or participate in active sports activities.

People 65 and older and those with chronic conditions like lung disease, asthma and diabetes are considered higher-risk of developing a severe illness if they contract COVID-19. inewsource and KPBS put together a map of where the highest concentrations of high-risk populations are clustered in the county. 

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Maya Srikrishnan, and edited by Sara Libby.

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