San Diego Unified expected to release reopening timeline, updated plans Tuesday

San Diego Unified School District headquarters
(U-T files)

Amid changing school reopening guidance and delays in getting COVID-19 vaccines to school staff, San Diego Unified is expected to release a new reopening timeline and other details of a revised reopening plan at its school board meeting Tuesday.

The meeting will be broadcast online at 5 p.m. on the district’s YouTube webpage and on ITV Channel 16.

District staff will explain San Diego Unified’s path to reopening and next steps. The district also will report on student attendance during distance learning and participation of students in the district’s limited “Phase One” in-person support services, according to the board agenda. Phase One allows small groups of certain students to meet in person with school staff for extra support.

The district announced earlier this month that it is committed to offering in-person instruction for the rest of its students in the fall of the coming school year.

But whether the district reopens for in-person learning anytime during the current school year depends on the speed of vaccination rollouts to school staff and on how much local COVID case rates decline, the district decided.

The district is expected to remain closed for the near future, even though the state is allowing elementary schools and elementary districts in the county to apply to reopen through a waiver process, because the county’s case rate has fallen significantly.

Before the winter surge of COVID-19 cases, San Diego Unified said it would reopen in January. But the surge postponed those plans indefinitely.

Now that there’s a vaccine, San Diego Unified educators have said they do not want to return to campus until they have had the chance to get inoculated.

San Diego County has not yet opened vaccinations to school staff, because it is first prioritizing vaccinations of people 65 and older, who have been the most likely to die from COVID.

Less than two weeks ago, County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said school staff could start to get vaccinated in two to three weeks. That was before severe winter storms in other parts of the country delayed vaccine shipments to San Diego, causing the county to temporarily close its largest vaccination center at Petco Park for several days.

San Diego Unified accepts public comment by telephone for board meetings. Members of the public wishing to speak must fill out an online form by 2 p.m. Tuesday.

A parent group called Reopen SDUSD said it plans to hold a protest at the district’s headquarters at 3 p.m. Tuesday in advance of the board meeting. The group has called for the district to reopen for instruction since last fall.