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Carlsbad Unified increases substitute pay, schedules reopening for Jan. 5

CARLSBAD — The Carlsbad Unified School District is moving forward with its reopening plans for students.

The Board of Trustees voted, 4-1, to approve the Jan. 5 reopening for elementary, middle and high school students during its Nov. 18 meeting. Trustee Kathy Rallings voted against the reopening plans due to concerns over rising cases of COVID-19.

Elementary students will return to school five days per week, while middle and high school students will be subject to a hybrid plan of in-person schooling two days per week and virtual classes the other three.

Additionally, the district is increasing its pay and recruiting efforts for substitute teachers, according to Assistant Superintendent Rick Grove. The daily rate will increase to $150, while the long-term rate is now $160 per day, he added.

“This bundled approach is to protect everybody,” Trustee Ray Pearson said. “I believe we are addressing the full safety and prevention of any transmission on the school campuses. This partnership is not going to work unless outside of campus if everybody really adheres to all the safety precautions.”

San Diego County recently was placed in the purple tier for COVID-19, which is the highest level in the state. The purple tier adds additional restrictions, although schools that have previously had reopening plans in place or already have students on campus may continue to operate under those plans.

Superintendent Ben Churchill reported Carlsbad had a seven-day average of 5.1 cases, up 0.5 from the previous week. The city has reported 936 total cases.

For weeks, some parents and teachers have been at odds over how to reopen. CUSD had planned to reopen this month, but those plans were pushed back as teachers railed against a lack of air filters and other safety equipment.

However, the teacher’s union said if those measures were met, a Jan. 5 reopening would be acceptable.

“I still do not see any outdoor learning spaces in these plans in order for social distancing,” Rallings said. “I also don’t see any plans to partner with the City of Carlsbad … and a pilot for some of these campuses to livestream. I’ve actually been in favor of opening five days a week, but I am not in favor of sacrificing the lives of our staff and students.”

As for the recruiting efforts, Grove said the district is being active to increase incentives to draw from a larger pool. An individual needs a bachelor’s degree and pass a basic skills test.

He said the district will hire 10 to 20 teachers and help to provide more distancing for students. The long-term subpackage is effective after 10 days, Grove added, along with the loyalty bonus of $500 after 100 days of service.

“We are doing a full-court press to recruit substitute teachers,” Grove said. “Also, making sure between our safety measures and competitive compensation plans that subs want to come work for us.”

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