Improve San Dieguito’s Reopening Safety Plan So as to Not Endanger Its Community

Improve San Dieguito’s Reopening Safety Plan So as to Not Endanger Its Community

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Concerned SDUHSD Parents started this petition to SDUHSD Board of Trustees

We the undersigned demand that the San Dieguito Union High School District (SDUHSD) meet or exceed recommended safety standards established by medical professionals affiliated with UC San Diego’s Return to Learn program. SDUHSD serves over 13,000 students and employs over 620 teachers and 500 classified staff, who reside throughout San Diego County, and an inadequate approach to safety protocols jeopardizes the health not only of teachers, students and their families in the district but also of the community at large by negatively impacting our hospitals and healthcare system at a time when COVID-19 infections are hitting record highs.

It is irresponsible of this district to reopen while falling far short of scientific safety standards adopted by neighboring districts like San Diego Unified, whose board voted unanimously to exceed standards modeled by the UC San Diego Return to Learn program. While elementary schools have reopened with some success, secondary schools are more complex: adolescent infection rates more closely resemble those of adults, and school size and schedule variations make cohorting and distancing more challenging. 

Currently proposed safety protocols are NOT sufficient for a sustainable reopening for all students. 

The current safety protocols fall well below those modeled by UC San Diego’s Return to Learn. In contrast, the board of neighboring district San Diego Unified, voted unanimously to exceed the standards modeled by UC San Diego’s Return to Learn

District communication has stated that the district is working in consultation with UC San Diego and San Diego County Public Health. Repeated requests to the district and Board to release the details of these consultations have been ignored. It is strange that alleged consultations with the same teams consulting with SDUSD have not raised concerns about the deficiencies of the SDUHSD plans. We are concerned that there may be misrepresentations by District leadership to the public about the true safety of SDUHSD school sites in advance of a broad return to campus for all students on January 4. 

SDUHSD prides itself on being the #1 ranked school district in San Diego and the #6 ranked school district in the state of California (according to niche.com) yet sinks to below the minimum health and safety standards for its students and teachers

The current reopening plan also poses longer-term negative impacts to the community, resulting in expected teacher attrition and diminished educational outcomes.

SDUHSD’s pseudo safety protocols could result in several dangerous outcomes:

  • Significant increase in cases of asymptomatic spread in schools, especially because robust testing, notification, and quarantining protocols are being dismissed in favor of the bare minimum standard required. 
  • Teacher attrition, which could reach 20% of faculty at some school sites, while we have a state-wide shortage of teachers and substitute teachers, exacerbated by the district adopting a policy that mandates that ALL teachers return to the classroom in-person, or be forced to go on leave. Many of these teachers teach highly selective subjects and will be very difficult to replace.  This will affect Advanced Placement (AP) scores and possibly college admission rates.  Who will teach the students? Trying to find highly qualified teachers at this time of year is unlikely because they are already under contract in other districts.  What impact will this have in the long term on our district, which attracts homebuyers each and every year based on the reputation of our schools?
  • Alarming increase in community transmission rates, affecting all community members, regardless of whether or not they have children in the district.
  • Complete erosion of trust in district leadership and weakening of district reputation that could take decades to restore.
  • Transmission of virus that could result in death or long-term health consequences such as those outlined in The Lancet Psychiatry (Bidirectional Associations Between COVID-19 and Psychiatric Disorder: Retrospective Cohort Studies of 62,354 COVID-19 Cases in the USA), JAMA Cardiology (Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance Findings in Competitive Athletes Recovering From COVID-19 Infection) and others, including the potential for:
    • Mental health disorders -- affecting 1 in 5 who have been infected
    • Mental health issues related to campus return  both for educators and students (increased stress and anxiety in an environment not adhering to adequate safety protocols)
    • Damage to the heart for those who become infected with COVID which may increase the risk of heart failure or other heart complications in the future
    • Long term lung damage, scar tissues that can lead to lifelong breathing problems
    • Brain damage such as strokes, seizures, paralysis, neurodegenerative diseases.
    • Kidney damage
    • Other unstudied complications. 

Actions Desired

  1. SDUHSD should at a minimum meet the standards outlined in UC San Diego’s Return to Learn guidelines, and specifically the recommended physical 6-foot distancing, ventilation and filtration (meeting MERV13 standards in all indoor areas with 5 or more air changes per hour), masking, testing, contact tracing, notification (beyond only those within 6 feet of an infected person for more than 15 minutes), community spread levels (not being in purple tier and the county being at fewer than 7 outbreaks per week), and other guidelines. Currently, the SDUHSD plan falls short in many aspects, particularly as it relates to ventilation/filtration, testing, and community spread levels.
  2. Heed the directive of San Diego County that all businesses that remain in operation (which include schools) shall make every effort to use telecommuting for their workforces. Teachers should be given a choice to continue teleworking, which is feasible given the concurrent online and in-person teaching paradigm being proposed.
  3. Delay reopening for more students until San Diego County is out of the purple tier, focusing instead on keeping only students with prioritized needs on campus until infections are under control as recommended by protocols set forth by UC San Diego Return to Learn program.

 

0 have signed. Let’s get to 5,000!
At 5,000 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!