SOLANA BEACH – The Solana Beach School District welcomed back its sixth-grade students to the classroom this past Monday, February 8, as the school district works to have all of their grade levels back on campus by March 1.
“We continue to move forward with our phase-in of additional students and additional days,” said Assistant Superintendent Sabrina Lee at the school board’s February 11 meeting. “We have just an immense amount of gratitude for our staff. From our teachers to our custodians as well our principals and department leads. This has really been a coordinated team effort.”
The Solana Beach district has been bringing students back to its seven school campuses in phases since October 12 when students with disabilities returned in special day classes. Kindergarten was the first full class to return on November 9.
The board has reported an increase in both engagement and work completion since students have returned to class, along with improvements in social and emotional well-being.
Board Vice President Debra Schade, speaking on some possible next steps, suggested that teachers begin wearing double masks as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently recommended to further inhibit the spread of COVID-19.
“I would encourage our staff to do that,” Schade said. “I think that’s the next level now that we have more students on campus until we get our teachers fully vaccinated.”
Schade also made a point to emphasize the importance of compliance with health and safety guidelines as the district continues to bring back more students.
“This is working because we have behavioral compliance with our families and our teachers,” Schade said. “It’s important we try very hard to do the social distancing, the masking, not congregate in large groups. All of the things you’re doing inside the school, practice outside the school so we can continue to provide, without interruption, this contact point for our students.”
The final two classes that are scheduled to return to in-person teaching are fourth grade on February 22 and fifth grade on March 1.
The district has implemented several mitigation strategies to ensure a safe return to the classroom including requiring face coverings for all staff and students, barring students from mingling with students from a different grade level, enforcing a six-foot social distance policy, implementing staggered arrivals and dismal from campus among other safety strategies.
“It has been a challenge that none of us expected to have,” Board President Vicki King said. “I know it couldn’t happen fast enough that we get the fourth and fifth graders back, and it’s coming on the horizon. I know I’m very excited that sixth grade is back and I’m looking forward to seeing those classrooms.”