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San Dieguito school board to continue virtual meetings

ENCINITAS — The San Dieguito Union High School District board of trustees on Sept. 30 voted unanimously to continue holding virtual meetings but did not commit to scheduling meetings at times when all students and faculty are able to participate.

The board said it will continue to evaluate the situation in the district.

“We have to revise this on a monthly basis,” said Trustee Katrina Young. “So this is not a decision we make and it stretches to a certain length of time. When we get to a point where we don’t deem it (needed) anymore it’s a good sign to our community that we are getting toward the end of the hardships that COVID has been presenting to all of us.”

During regularly scheduled board meetings, trustees and other district staff members wearing masks have met inside the board’s chambers at the district office. The live stream for the meetings is available on the school district’s website.

Community members who spoke at the meeting were in support of the decision to continue holding virtual meetings. Resident Michelle McCoskey expressed her concerns about the eventual return of in-person meetings and requested that board members continue wearing masks while meeting indoors.

“I think COVID safety is important and I do think this is a safer way to hear the meetings right now,” McCoskey said. “I don’t believe we’ll be able to safely physically distance at all board meetings. And because that won’t likely be possible, masking is going to be very, very important.”

At recent board meetings, members of the public have questioned why some school district meetings were recently scheduled during early morning hours, which some say greatly limits input from faculty and students on district matters.

Since the start of this school year on August 17, the San Dieguito school board has held seven regular or special meetings. All but one of them began before 5 p.m. Five of the meetings were held during school hours when it would be impossible for students and faculty to attend.

“We’re hoping that you value our voices, the voices of the community, the voices of students and teachers,” McCoskey said. “Schedule your meetings like we matter, whether they are in person or remote.”

Board President Mo Muir said the school board has experienced issues getting all trustees, staff members and the interim superintendent in the same room, which has contributed to irregular meeting times.

“And sometimes, I’m sorry, but the only time they can meet is during the day,” Muir said. “But we try our best to have our meetings at night where everybody can participate.”

Trustee Melisse Mossy also noted there are working professionals in the district who work nights and it’s her belief that having daytime meetings does allow a variety of people an opportunity to participate.

During the meeting, the board also agreed to revise its district masking policy and added a face-covering requirement into the district’s COVID-19 Safety Plan. The board considered only adding the requirement into the COVID-19 Safety Plan and rescinding the established board policy.

But Young said having both a board policy and a safety plan requirement covers their bases.

“We also need to make sure the board has that control over that decision,” Young said.

Allman opposed the motion, preferring to rescind the board policy and keep the requirement in the district’s safety plan to give the board more flexibility. For example, with the new district policy, if state or local mask guidance changes in the future, the school board must call a special meeting to make the necessary changes, whereas the safety plan can be modified without a meeting.

The next regular school board meeting is scheduled for at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, Oct.14.