OCEANSIDE — The city’s school district has decided to wait to return students and teachers to a full five-day, in-person class schedule until the fall.
Last week, several parents gathered in front of the Oceanside Unified School District office on Mission Avenue as part of a rally to push for a full return to in-person instruction for students immediately.
The parents, many of whom are part of the Facebook group Parent Association of Oceanside, have previously gathered together in rallies and asked the school board to open sooner for the last several months.
Back in April, staff had recommended expanding elementary in-person instruction to five days a week on a modified schedule while keeping secondary students in the current hybrid schedule.
Instead of approving staff’s recommendation, the School Board decided in a 3-2 vote to keep elementary students in the current hybrid in-person schedule until the district consulted with county and state health departments as well as the district’s labor union partners regarding classroom sizes and distance.
That left only a few more weeks of school this year for the district to decide on whether or not to return students full-time now or possibly wait until the fall.
During the school board meeting on May 11, the board voted to approve a full return to pre-pandemic, in-person school hours on Aug. 16, the start of the 2021-2022 school year.
Todd Maddison, a school district parent and activist, expressed frustration with the board once again for not opening sooner as he has pushed for in the past.
“This morning, we saw parents clearly telling the district what they want as we saw when the majority of parents voted for in-person learning last spring, and as we’ve seen almost every board meeting since then over the last year,” Maddison said.
Several other parents also spoke during the public comment portion of the board meeting, pushing for five days of in-person instruction to return by the fall since it hadn’t happened yet and accusing the School Board of ignoring their wishes up to this point. The board ended up voting unanimously to reopen schools to five days a week in the fall.
President Stacy Begin took great offense to comments accusing the board of not listening to parents.
“We have three board members who are parents here,” Begin said. “I’m finding a way to make it work, we’re all finding a way to work and we’re supporting each other.”
Begin said the board does not have “bad intentions” but rather laws to follow as well as “many moving parts” that need to work together to make reopening happen.
Kyle Dahl, a district parent, wrote a letter to the School Board regarding Begin’s comments a few days after the meeting and asking her to resign as board president.
“The parents don’t care if you’re offended about their positions. That’s not why they participate in rallies and board meetings, it’s to advocate for their children,” Dahl wrote. “What works for you doesn’t work for everyone, families in this district deal with a variety of challenges. The statement above is extremely myopic and conveys a total lack of empathy for what the parents of this district have gone through this year.”
Reopening in the fall will include mitigation strategies such as requiring students and staff to wear masks, hand sanitization and physical distancing as needed unless state and local guidelines prohibit these plans.
The plans, according to the district, are based on the current downward trends of COVID-19 infections, increased vaccinations, health data and guidance and other virus spread prevention measures its campuses have taken, like continued air purification and current masking protocols.
The district will also reintroduce on-campus lunch, recess, physical education, sports and more in the fall upon its students’ return.
Once students return, school campuses will no longer offer virtual instruction. Instead, anyone who wishes to have a completely remote or hybrid learning model can enroll in the district’s Surfside Educational Academy.