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Alex Guel, a second-grade student at Discovery Elementary School, works on her class assignment at home. Her mother, Aurora Guel, is leading efforts to reopen schools in the San Marcos Unified School District. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

San Marcos Unified and Oceanside Unified are two of the largest school districts in North County where students are not back in the classroom full time, and there’s no final decision about what will happen for the rest of the school year.

Needless to say, things are a bit tense.

In a new story, VOSD’s Kayla Jimenez lays out the latest on reopening plans in both districts, and the intensifying push from parent groups to return to five days a week of in-person schooling.

“One of my girls came home crying because her teacher sent me an email on Friday letting me know she’s really falling behind, and she said she really doesn’t understand the work. According to assessments, she is falling behind and it’s because of the hybrid schedule. It’s not adequate,” one parent told Jimenez.

Many parents pointed out that the way both districts’ hybrid learning schedule is set up, students are now getting even less face-to-face time with teachers than they did when they were learning entirely online. 

Speaking of reopening schools …

VOSD’s Ashly McGlone analyzed the 10 biggest San Diego County school districts’ coronavirus aid spending, and found that Oceanside Unified spent the vast majority of its funds on PPE, which makes its decision not to fully reopen even more notable.

McGlone rounded up her biggest takeaways from all the number-crunching she’s done over the last few months on schools’ coronavirus aid spending in a new post. 

“How local schools decided to spend the money thus far reveals a lot about their priorities, and there is so much more money and decision-making to come,” McGlone writes.

The Problem With the $300M to Fix the Border Sewage Crisis

MacKenzie Elmer, with help from Tijuana Press’s Vicente Calderon, has been doing lots of reporting on the border sewage crisis – what’s causing it, and what’s standing in the way of fixing it.

In this week’s Environment Report, she illuminates one big string attached to the $300 million the Environmental Protection Agency has to dole out to help fix the problem: “Congress gave the EPA $300 to build something, not necessarily to solve something,” Elmer writes. “There’s no money for ‘operation and maintenance,’ or ‘O&M’ in bureaucracy speak, which basically means long-term care of whatever is built.”

An EPA official acknowledged that this presents quite a challenge. 

“It’s something we continue to ponder,” he said. “The challenge always from the EPA side is, even if we had funding to do [a cross-border solution], our congressional appropriations don’t allow us to do that.”

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Sara Libby, and edited by Scott Lewis.

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