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Ada W. Harris Elementary School
5th grade student Jordan Ross, 10, participates in a physical wellness checklist and receives hand sanitizer from school nurse Donna Proal before entering Ada W. Harris Elementary School on Thursday, Sept. 24, in Encinitas. Photo by Caitlin Steinberg
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Encinitas school districts begin safety protocols for in-person learning

ENCINITAS — Despite ever-changing COVID-19 restrictions, Encinitas schools have proceeded with the fall semester, implementing a variety of in-person and distance learning curriculums and changing the way students and staff interact for the foreseeable future.

In previous days, each school district in Encinitas — Cardiff School District, San Dieguito Union High School District (SDUHSD) and Encinitas Union School District (EUSD) — implemented separate re-opening plans in accordance with state COVID-19 regulations.

Cardiff School District began a mix of in-person and distance learning on Monday, September 14, splitting students into two cohorts — morning and afternoon. The district will offer in-person instruction four days a week, and Wednesdays serving as a designated half-day of distance learning until January 4.

EUSD commenced with in-person instruction on September 21, with student attendance split via a hybrid model. Students will attend either all-day instruction on Monday and Wednesday or Tuesday and Thursday, accompanied by distance learning the opposite days and a half-day on Friday.

Ada W. Harris Elementary School
Students’ desks are equipped with clear plastic guards as part of the newly adopted health protocols for in-person learning at Ada W. Harris Elementary School in Encinitas. Photo by Caitlin Steinberg

SDUHSD has proceeded with a full-time distance learning model, with the exception of special education students and English language learners, among select others.

The SDUHSD Board voted on September 17 to extend the distance learning model into the second quarter of the school year, slowly allowing all students back onto campuses as health conditions allow.

The school board will continue further discussions on how to provide in-person instruction to all students in accordance with changing public health orders during a meeting scheduled for September 24.

For those attending in-person instruction, families dropping off their students will be required to adhere to specific arrival procedures as well as undergo a daily health evaluation.

Ada W. Harris Elementary School
A sign with instructions for students prior to entering the campus at Ada Harris Elementary School in Encinitas. Photo by Caitlin Steinberg

In an email to families, the three districts flushed out the requirements for in-person attendance, mandating facial coverings on arrival, designated entrances to reduce traffic flow, staggered arrival time and pick up times, as well as other various social distancing procedures.

Additionally, districts are instituting “Daily Wellness Checks,” which include a visual wellness check when the child is dropped off and visual confirmation of the child’s health upon arrival.

All three school districts require families to “self-screen” children for symptoms, such as coughing, shortness of breath and heightened temperature before coming to school.

Following a COVID-19 outbreak at San Diego State University’s (SDSU) campus and with the annual flu-season quickly approaching, all eyes are on the success of in-person learning protocols.

On Tuesday, September 22, San Diego County just barely maintained its “Red Tier” status, the county’s COVID case rate standing at 6.9 per 100,000 individuals. The previous week, the county’s rate was 7.9, in part due to 900 SDSU students testing positive.

For now, families and staff of Encinitas’ schools are holding their breath, waiting to see how the first several weeks of in-person instruction proceed.