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Mindful of pandemic, Solana Beach school district begin plans for next year

SOLANA BEACH — With all grade levels now back on campus four days a week, the Solana Beach School District has begun its plans for the 2021-2022 school year while keeping the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in the front of their minds.

“While more than three-quarters of the state of California is talking about getting kids back this month and April, I feel very grateful and fortunate that we have all of our students back that want to be back and we are already talking about the 2021-2022 school year,” Superintendent Jodee Brentlinger said.

The top priority for the district will be to have students on campus for the full five-day school week to maximize students’ learning experience as COVID-19 numbers continue to look more favorable in the county.

The district believes this is key in providing the social and emotional needs for the school staff, students and their families.

“This is all going to be done on the foundation of health and safety of our students and staff,” Brentlinger said. “We know that we still need to remain diligent as we move forward.”

The proposed health and safety measures for the coming school year mirror the guidelines issued by the California Department of Public Health’s framework for reopening schools. Some of the measures include continuing a requirement of face coverings for all staff and students and enforcing stable groupings, or cohorts, so students do not intermingle with students from other classes.

Teacher desks will continue to be distanced six feet apart from students’ desks with the district also recommending that student desks be no more than five feet apart from other student desks.

As the vaccination rollout continues in San Diego County, the Solana Beach district will be requiring neither students nor staff to be vaccinated as teachers are now eligible to receive a shot should they choose.

“We are so pleased that those staff members that want to receive vaccinations have that opportunity and we are looking forward to when our families and their children have the same opportunity later this fall or early 2022,” said Coordinator of Student Services Lisa Denham.

Also discussed was the district recommendation to lower the staffing ratios for grades K-3 from 24:1 to 20:1 and for grades 4-6 from 27:1 to 25:1. Also prioritized will be keeping the larger classrooms for the higher grade levels.

“This reduced staffing ratio would have a two-fold benefit. It would allow student desks to be at a minimum of five feet apart from one another and then also allow all students to be in one learning space,” said Assistant Superintendent Courtney Goode.

The district would hope to have the staffing mostly completed by June with it being finalized by August 12 which is four days before the first day of the 2021-2022 school year.

These plans for the 2021-2022 school year for the Solana Beach School District will be finalized at the next scheduled board meeting on April 15 before they are presented to staff and parents in May.