The Coast News Group
San Marcos Unified School District
San Marcos Unified School District will expand in-person learning on May 4. File photo
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San Marcos Unified votes to expand in-person learning

SAN MARCOS — The San Marcos Unified School District (SMUSD) held a board meeting on Tuesday, April 20, and decided to move forward with plans to expand in-person learning, effective May 4.

The board met for the first time since facing a wave of criticism from families and community members after refusing to comply with a judge’s order to fully reopen schools.

Last week, a court decided not to compel SMUSD to speed up their reopening plans, granting them the legislative authority to reopen at their own pace.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the board decided to expand in-person learning for elementary students from two days a week to four days a week.

For middle and high school students, in-person learning will expand from two days a week to either three or four days a week, depending on how many students opt into these additional days.

Based on the number of secondary students wishing to participate, schools will assign their students one or two extra days on campus.

To determine the number of students who want to opt into these additional days, secondary school sites are sending out surveys to their students this week.

Families who do not complete the survey will automatically remain in the current two-day hybrid model.

Interim Superintendent Tiffany Campbell said that although many secondary families want their kids to be on campus five days a week, that option would most likely require hiring more teachers.

“We have many more classes that are over capacity across secondary schools if all of the students in hybrid return to campus. Even with 3-foot distancing, we can’t bring class sizes down enough without creating additional sections,” Campbell said during the meeting. “Either we would create the sections … and we would ask teachers to add another section to what they’re currently teaching, or we would have to add more teachers in order to meet the needs of those additional sections. Feasibility of this is limited at this time of the year.”

The district also updated the quarantine protocol for middle and high school students. If there is a positive COVID case on the secondary level, the district will quarantine only the students who were within 6 feet of the positive case for at least 15 minutes over a 24-hour period when they were on campus within the contagious period.

For elementary students, the entire class will be quarantined in the event of a positive case.

Sandra Greefkes, a SMUSD parent, told The Coast News that she has seen a variety of different reactions from families regarding the expansion.

“The parent community appears to be even more fractured than before — or perhaps more vocal. I am personally very concerned with the future impact of having enough quality teachers, as some, for the first time, consider leaving the profession,” Greefkes said. “I believe deeply in the SMUSD district and public education and the dedicated team members that are working to make the district amazing.”

The next board meeting will be on May 4.

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