A classroom at San Diego High School. / Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle

In the midst of trying to process murky presidential election results, San Diegans also got some other big news Wednesday. The county is on the cusp of being moved into the state’s most restrictive tier regarding coronavirus.

The county now has 7.4 cases per 100,000 residents, which means we’re already in the purple tier. If we stay in that tier for another week, it means all the restrictions that go along with purple status will kick in.

Perhaps the most consequential: School districts that aren’t already open will not be allowed to do so. If a school district is already open, it will be allowed to stay open.

Right now, many school districts across the county have returned to partial in-person classes, or hybrid learning. At some school districts, like Grossmont Union, students only go to school once a week. At others, they go more frequently.

Back in October, the U-T reported that 28 out of the county’s 42 school districts were open for in-person classes or about to open. Since then at least one of those districts backed off its reopening plans.

Officials at the San Diego County Office of Education are unsure how many districts are currently open for hybrid learning, said spokeswoman Music Watson.

Another development this week could actually be an even bigger obstacle to reopening – or reverse some reopenings altogether.

Superintendents from seven big city districts across the state, including San Diego Unified, signed a letter to the governor calling for a “common standard” to decide when school districts can reopen. So far school districts have been able to decide for themselves when to reopen, as long as the number of coronavirus cases has been less than seven per 100,000 locally.

The superintendents’ letter laid out several pages of criteria they believe should be in place before a district can open.

Most of the criteria lay out precautions many districts already have in place – such as a universal mask requirement and six-feet distancing.

The superintendents also call for widespread testing among students and staff at no cost. Currently, this is not a requirement most school districts have in place.

It’s unclear if those districts would be asked to close, should a more rigorous common standard be put in place by the state.

The districts in San Diego County that have opened have not reported significant coronavirus cases, the U-T reported. For instance, Poway Unified, the third largest district in the county, only had 11 COVID-19 cases after being open for a month.

Northern parts of the county like Poway, however, have not experienced as high of transmission rates of the virus, like other parts of the county where districts are still closed.

If a stricter common standard is introduced and pushes some districts to close, it would likely lead to an uprising among parents who have pushed hard for their schools to reopen – and who say the reopening has been going safely.

See y’all in two weeks, when hopefully we know who the president is going to be!

What We’re Writing

Will Huntsberry

Will Huntsberry is a senior investigative reporter at Voice of San Diego.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.