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San Marcos Unified pauses in-person learning due to COVID-19 concerns

SAN MARCOS — The San Marcos Unified School District (SMUSD) notified parents last week that they would be pausing in-person learning for at least two weeks citing concerns over the recent countywide surge in COVID-19 cases.

The district’s elementary students who chose a hybrid learning option have been attending in-person classes since October, while middle and high school students were set to begin in-person learning in January.

On Dec. 29, the governing board and Interim Superintendent Kevin Holt sent two different letters to families depending on if their child is in elementary or secondary learning.

The letter to elementary families said that students will move to remote instruction on Jan. 11 for a period of two weeks.

“It is an unfortunate reality that COVID-19 continues to spread across the region; with a post- holiday surge expected in the early weeks of January. Based on this information and input from our SMUSD community regarding the health and safety of our students and staff, the Governing Board has made the difficult, but prudent decision to temporarily suspend in-person learning after the return from winter break,” the letter stated.

For secondary students, the letter states that they will not begin in-person learning until situations improve countywide:

“As you know we have been working diligently to ready our secondary campuses for our middle and high school students return in January, and we are happy to report that our staff and schools are prepared and look forward to seeing our students back on campus as soon as possible,” the letter said. “Please note, however, if San Diego County remains in the Purple tier our middle and high school students must continue remote instruction until the county moves into a less restrictive tier.”

Both letters state that the governing board will meet on Jan. 11 to further review the status of COVID-19 in San Diego County and will make adjustments to these plans if necessary.

“I applaud the SMUSD leadership team and governing board working through the holidays to try and give parents as much notice as possible. They are in an unprecedented position trying to keep all team members, students and families safe,” said SMUSD parent Sandra Greefkes. “Based on the social media dialogue within the community… the reactions are wide-ranging from supportive and understanding to disbelief and complete disagreement with the decision.”

SMUSD, which has more than 21,000 students in grades K-12, has had three positive COVID-19 cases within the last two weeks. It is unclear how many total cases the district has had.

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