Escondido, CA

High school students prefer ‘blended model,’ but year begun with virtual learning only

Prior to last week’s opening of the new school year (August 25), the Escondido Union High School District required registration of its students and asked them to select their learning preference:  either distance learning or a “blended model” (with face-to-face instruction two days of the week). 

The district reports that 89% of students (assuming parental approval) chose the Two-Day Blended Model, the remaining 11% selected the virtual approach which was described as “self-paced Independent Study.”

EUSD operates three high schools: Orange Glen, San Pasqual and Escondido High Schools.

With San Diego County recently meeting the guidelines indicating reduced viral infections (extended for two consecutive weeks), it was removed from the Watch List and Escondido’s schools were then allowed the choice of moving to face-to-face in-school instruction. But the district (like the elementary school district) will begin with distance learning only. 

 Anne Staffieri, superintended of the district called the move off the Watch List “encouraging news that could help to pave the way for us to reopen schools.” But she said that the high schools will continue the full virtual approach at least until September 25, which marks the end of its first “grading period.” The district also provided students the option to remain in the virtual learning approach, if and when the schools do reopen. 

In answer to a variety of questions concerning assistance for the virtual approach, the district said that it has supplemented basic access instructions for distance learning with “how-to videos” and a technology hotline.  

Assuming the eventual move to some days of face-to-face instruction, the district said that student and staff safety in its schools is “a top priority.” 

“We have installed Plexiglass screens for staff and rearranged desks in classrooms in order provide for proper social distancing. Screens will be installed in high traffic areas and in temperature screening locations,” said the district.

“We have ample personal protection equipment (PPE) available and are conducting temperature and health screenings for anyone who comes to our school campuses. We continue to engage in deep cleaning of our sites nightly and surface cleaning throughout the work day.” 

When on campus, students, staff and visitors will be required to wear masks, with PPE provided to staff, based on their particular duties, and routes adjusted for movement on campus.

Additionally, the district said it will provide an “enhanced education campaign for staff and students on personal healthy hygiene practices.”

The district said that it will also continue its Student Nutrition program (as of August 31) by providing free meals at three locations:  Escondido High School (student parking lot); Orange Glen High School (front of school); and San Pasqual High School (student parking lot). Times: Mondays, 11 a.m.–12:30 p.m. (breakfast and lunch for three days); Thursdays, 11 a.m.–12:30 p.m. and 3:30 –5 p.m. (breakfast and lunch for two days.)  

This past Monday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the extension of waivers, put in place with the COVID-19 pandemic, that enable continued provision of free meals to all children up to December 31, 2020. Last month the San Diego Unified School District had warned of the possible end of the supplemental food support without the extension of these waivers. 

Based on the USDA waiver the high school district said that it is looking into adding additional weekend meals and supper for all students.

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