Students attending Bonsall Unified School District schools were anticipating a return to classrooms utilizing a hybrid model on Monday, Jan. 11. According to a letter released to parents on Thursday, Jan. 7, that won’t happen until later this month.
“At this time, based upon our case rate data in the BUSD school community and the required time to quarantine, along with CDPH guidance criteria on case threshold, we are concerned with our schools being negatively impacted with the staffing to support in-person instruction,” said the letter signed by Superintendent David Jones. “We are also concerned about the possibility of closing classrooms and schools shortly after returning, causing a yo-yo effect that we are trying to avoid in the best interest of teaching and learning if at all possible.”
On Thursday, Jones announced that the play is to move the return date to Jan. 25 and that the district would remain in distance learning come Monday.
In a phone call with Village News on Friday, Jan. 8 Jones made it clear that staffing issues and employees within the district that have either been exposed to someone with the virus or have the virus currently was the main factor in making the decision.
“All of our classified and certificated classroom teachers, the contact tracing and or cases over the holidays ...,” Jones said. “We have to be able to have the staffing to teach in-person instruction. There are people that need to quarantine until they can return to work.
“There's not much you can do if it looks like you're not going to have the staff members and teachers there to teach kids in person. And you don't have substitutes, which is what a lot of districts are dealing with. Not only here, but in different areas of the country.
“If you don't have your teachers there and you don't have any substitutes, you can't do in-person learning.”
The BUSD Governing Board of Trustees unanimously approved the district's Reopening Plan on Aug. 12, 2020. Students had returned with a hybrid model in the weeks before the holiday break as well as students attending classes online only.
“It was a combination of both,” Jones said. “But we also started to see, prior to the break, which is similar to the data I was looking at a few days ago, we started to see the case rate and close contact tracing go up in classrooms and our schools. We were shutting down more classrooms and getting close to shutting down schools right prior to the break because of the cases.”
Jones said in the letter that the district has always maintained that the return was tentative and that BUSD staff would monitor and update parents when and if anything had changed.
“There is no change to the online-only students’ schedules,” Jones wrote.
“Please know that we understand this situation continues to be challenging for our families as well as our staff as a whole. The school board, staff and I would like for students to be at our schools as much as possible, and we will do so when COVID data in our school community, along with guidance from the state and San Diego County indicates it is safe for our students, families and staff members.”
Jones said school site principals would be in contact with parents and students from each school to convey further information.
Jeff Pack can be reached by email at [email protected].