CUSD board commits to distance learning to begin school year

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Graphic by Lena McEachern.

The three key aspects of the district’s new Distance Learning 2.0 plan.

     On July 22, the Carlsbad Unified School District (CUSD) Board of Trustees committed to a distance learning model for the first four weeks of the 2020-2021 school year, beginning on Aug. 25. The decision comes after Governor Gavin Newsom announced that in-person instruction can only occur after San Diego County has been off California’s COVID-19 Monitoring List for 14 consecutive days. 

“This decision is intended to provide certainty to students, families and staff about what the beginning of the school year will look like,” CUSD said. “The public health situation will be monitored and more information will be provided at a later date about possible reopening scenarios based on the public health order at the time.”

The fall distance learning model, labelled “Distance Learning 2.0” by the district, will be different from the Remote Online Learning model introduced during spring. Carlsbad High students will encounter daily live instruction, letter grades, rigorous content and required daily attendance.

Some members of CUSD are disappointed by the decision to postpone in-person school and view the commitment as an overreaction against the virus. According to Johns Hopkins University, the US has a 3.3% case fatality ratio for COVID-19, meaning that 3.3% of those with confirmed cases die. Children are less likely to face serious complications from COVID-19, and 0 people under 19 have died from the virus in San Diego County. 

“I don’t agree with doing distance learning,” Steve Catalano, parent to senior Gabby Catalano said. “However, I don’t believe people should be sitting in class with a mask on for 8 hours.”

Other members of CUSD hold concerns about students transmitting the virus to older family members and school staff, especially as the pandemic worsens. On March 13, when CUSD announced school closures, San Diego County had six positive cases of COVID-19. As of Aug. 4, San Diego County has had 30,864 positive cases and 578 deaths by the virus. 

“There is nothing like learning at school, and not seeing everyone is gonna be hard, but my mom is a high-risk case if she were to get it, so I’m not trying to bring anything home to her,” senior Aquila Edwards said. “San Diego has a lot of cases right now, and I would likely be okay if I got it, but my mom wouldn’t. I’m willing to sacrifice the joys of in-person schooling for my mom’s safety.”

I’m willing to sacrifice the joys of in-person schooling for my mom’s safety”

— Aquila Edwards, 12

CUSD Student Services Specialist Rosemary Eshelman says she will miss parts of the traditional nature of in-person schooling, including the excitement of seeing friends and colleagues. Yet, she also believes that the health and safety of all must be taken into consideration before reopening.

I know what it is like to work on a school campus with staff and students getting sick and how that sickness can travel so quickly from one person to another,” Eshelman said. “I don’t think we can take a chance with this virus and the spread and the number of people it has affected and continues to affect.”

CUSD has since shared resources, such as a wellness guide, to assist students through this unprecedented time, and parents are supporting one another through communities like the Carlsbad Unified Parents group on Facebook. While no one knows the future of COVID-19, most agree that keeping the community safe is the number one priority moving forward, despite the disappointments this may bring. 

“Missing out on those last football games and homecoming is a bummer,” Edwards said. “But, it seems like a small price to pay knowing that I’m keeping the ones I love safe.”