School Reopening – Frequently Asked Questions

We hope this FAQ list will answer many of your questions in relation to reopening schools and the learning options for families. Click on a question below to see the answer. Please note that health regulations change often and the links below may be outdated. We have included the date each question was last updated. We will do our best to update this page based on current information. Please refer to our COVID-19 updates page for more information about reopening plans and hybrid learning.

If you have additional questions please contact your school or send us an email at Preguntas frecuentes en Español

Additional FAQ Pages
California Department of Public Health – Schools FAQ
San Diego County Health and Human Services – Schools: K-12 FAQs

General Questions

When will the my school reopen for in-person instruction (hybrid learning)?


Based on the “Blueprint for a Safer Economy” state regulations, San Diego County’s COVID-19 case rate status is in the purple tier. Schools are not permitted to reopen for in-person instruction (per the state health order) if they did not reopen prior to the county moving into the purple tier. At this time, our schools are not be permitted (by law) to reopen for in-person instruction until the county moves out of the purple tier. We plan to reopen our schools as soon as we are permitted to do so. Please see our COVID-19 updates page for more information.

Is the school district currently providing any type of in-person instruction?


Yes. Our schools are all serving students in a small group format as is permitted under the state small-group/cohorting guidelines. Small group instruction is available to students based on need and availability. Please contact your school’s principal for more information.

How is the district making decisions about whether it is safe to reopen schools?


We are required to follow state, local, and federal health guidelines. The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) works in coordination with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and CDPH works in coordination with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Schools permitted to open for in-person instruction must adhere to the guidance outlined in the following documents:

Do schools have to reopen for in-person learning?


California law requires that schools reopen for in-person learning (in some capacity) as soon as it is deemed possible. California’s 2020-21 budget trailer bill states that “a local educational agency (i.e. school district) shall offer in-person instruction to the greatest extent possible.” The bill also states that “a local educational agency shall offer in-person instruction, and may offer distance learning, pursuant to the requirements of this part.” It’s important to point out that in-person instruction is a “shall” (it is required) and distance learning is a “may” (it is optional). 

Is the “Learning Options Survey” just a survey, or am I truly selecting hybrid or online learning for my child?


The term survey is confusing. We are asking you to choose which program to place your child in. You are truly making a selection for your child. Based on your response on the survey, schools will organize their classes to accommodate parent selections. The survey is open until Thursday, September 17, 2020. If you have already submitted the survey, and you would like to choose a different option, you can simply resubmit the survey by 9/17. Your most recent submission will be used. Please remember to submit the survey to the school where your child attends. If you have children attending multiple schools, please submit a separate survey for each child to their specific school only.

Is it safe for my child to return to school?


This is something parents must decide for themselves in consultation with their child’s primary care doctor. As with any other public place, there is no way to guarantee that interacting with people outside of your home would not result in an inadvertent exposure to COVID-19 or another illness. However, we can reduce the risk of exposure to the greatest extent possible by implementing the precautions established by health officials. Local, state, and federal guidelines do not guarantee safety, rather, they exist to provide guidelines that reduce risk. You can be assured that your school will follow the necessary guidelines to reduce risk to the greatest extent possible. We also understand that many families are not comfortable with the current level of risk and will choose to remain in online learning.

Rady Children’s Hospital has partnered with the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) and the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) to provide parents with this informative video about considerations for returning to school: Rady Children’s COVID-19 Townhall for Families. As you consider what is best for your family, this video might be helpful for you.  

Why can’t the district do what another district is doing?


As each district has planned to bring students back to campus, they have had to do so considering factors unique to their districts.  So while we plan and collaborate across the county, each district has unique circumstances for campus space, student capacity, staffing, budget and labor/contractual considerations that need to be accounted for.  From a public perspective, it might be easy to assume that what one district can implement, another can also, but that is just not the case. 

In early June you said the schools may be able to reopen at full capacity, what changed?


Months ago, when restrictions were lifted, we were planning to reopen at full capacity. This was permitted under the county health order at the time. Since then, the requirements for school reopening have been revised numerous times. In the current health order, a single suspected case of COVID-19 could result in the quarantine of all students in a classroom at full capacity. For this reason, it is not feasible to serve all students on campus at one time. We have elected to reopen schools in a hybrid format so that we can limit the number of students in a classroom at any given time. Our goal is to provide an opportunity for students to attend school safely, consistently, and often.

When the district was planning to reopen at full capacity, you said online students would have a spot in their class when they are ready to return, what changed?


When we initially planned for students to return to campus, our opinion survey results indicated about 10% of our students would remain online. It was our intention to staff one additional teacher per site to serve those students, and to reserve spots in classrooms for students, thereby reducing class size for in-person instruction. With that plan, it would have been possible to reserve a greater number of spots because classes could have been filled to capacity. We are now planning to open schools at half capacity with at least 25% of our families choosing to remain online. It is simply not possible to hold spaces for 25% of our students in classes that are limited to half capacity. In order to do so, we would have to hire 90+ teachers to accommodate approximately 2,750 students who will remain in online instruction. 

We will be able to maintain a limited amount of space for students who wish to return to campus. If a student wishes to return to campus from online learning and there is still space available, they will be able to return at that time. If there is a high demand to return, it may just be a matter of waiting until sufficient space exists, or for a sufficient number of students to return so that an additional class can be added. If restrictions are lifted at any point in the year, and we are able to reopen at full capacity, we hope to have space for all that wish to return to the classroom.

Why weren’t students enrolled in 100% online learning before the year began?


We didn’t feel it would be fair to ask parents to commit to online learning without knowing what the alternative would be. In the spring, when we surveyed families about what format they would prefer in the new school year, the overwhelming response was that they needed more information about how things would function once school reopens. Health guidelines have changed many times since then. Now that the school year has started, we can provide the details parents need to make an informed decision. 

Hybrid and Online Learning Questions

What will online learning look like for the students that do not choose hybrid?


Once hybrid begins (for hybrid students), students who choose 100% online learning will have a similar experience as they do now. Students will interact with their teachers and online classmates daily. They will spend 50% of their time on synchronous work (with their class) and 50% of their time on asynchronous work assigned by their teachers.

When will hybrid students attend school?


Two days a week, hybrid students will attend school with their cohort in classes limited to half (or less) capacity. On two of the at-home days, students will engage in asynchronous (independent) learning activities pre-assigned by their teacher. Mondays will be an at-home day for both cohorts, but will include some synchronous time as the whole class will have the opportunity to connect virtually with their teacher on Zoom. Mondays will include opportunities to preview the week’s learning, and opportunities for social-emotional learning, intervention, and ELD groups. The hybrid learning schedule will look like this:

How long will the school day be for hybrid learning?


On assigned “at school” days (T-Th or W-F) students will attend a full school day.  Students in preschool may have a shortened day to allow for cleaning between AM/PM classes.  Additionally, some schools may implement staggered arrival/dismissal times depending on the needs of their campus that may slightly impact start/end times for the school day. If there are any changes at your school, your principal will provide you with those important details.

Why will hybrid students attend school every other day instead of two days in a row?


We really thought through both sides of this and considered a lot of opinions and factors. When making the final determination, we ultimately decided that having students attend school every other day gave them an opportunity to learn with their teacher, then extend that learning at home the following day. From an instructional perspective, it meant that students would be able to reconnect back with their teachers for learning more frequently, rather than potentially being home without direct guidance for 2-3 days at a time. It also provided more frequent check-ins from a social-emotional perspective for students and families. We are required to clean and sanitize all classrooms daily. Having to clean between cohorts A and B is not necessary, because the same level of cleaning is required on a daily basis. We felt it made the most sense to provide a pattern of instruction and independent work, rather than longer chunks of either one. We felt this would provide the most consistency for students.

Will hybrid students interact with their teachers on the days they are at home?


On Mondays, all students will interact with their teachers as they set the purpose for the week, engage in social-emotional learning, and provide intervention groups as appropriate.  On the other at-home learning days, students will work independently.  These days will not include scheduled Zoom lessons as teachers will be instructing students who are in attendance on campus that day.  

If I choose 100% online learning now and change my mind in January, why can’t you guarantee there will be room for my child on campus?


Please see the question about reopening at full capacity under the “general” section above. It’s important to understand that the process is not as simple as adding an additional teacher to a school when students wish to return. This is because the return of students would not come in perfect grade-level groups. The addition of one or two students at each grade level could require a complete reorganization of a school (or master schedule) to create additional space for a few students. While we realize a reorganization now is disruptive, this is not a pattern we want to repeat throughout the year.  We intend to ensure that there is space in each of our classes, but it is not possible to create a one-to-one ratio of classroom space to online students.

Will my child continue to be a student at their current school if I choose online learning?


Yes. Your child will be an online student at their current school and will participate in online classes with other online students from their school. They will be taught by a teacher (or teachers) from their school or some schools may partner to share a grade level (depending on the number of students in an online class) in which case a teacher from an area school may serve your child. A teacher serving a cohort of students in this way would simply be shared by both schools. Many of our teachers and specialists serve students from multiple schools now. 

Will I lose my teacher if I choose online learning?


Every year, at the beginning of the year, some classes are reorganized based on actual enrollment by grade. This is difficult, but unavoidable due to the fluctuations in student enrollment at different grade levels and limited funds for staffing. This year reorganization is possible for any class (hybrid or online) as would be the case every year. Also, this year, depending on enrollment of online students, a school may need to partner with another school in the area to share a particular grade level or course. This is possible because students are online. For example, a teacher might serve an online class of students from both Fletcher and Northmont. Similarly, a teacher might serve an online class of students from both STEAM and SVA. Nonetheless, online students will be with students from their school and they will remain students at their current schools. Your principal will be able to answer more specific questions about placement once all of the survey data is collected and analyzed. 

Are online students more likely to be placed with a new teacher than hybrid students?


If there are more students that select hybrid learning than there are students that select online learning, it is more likely that the online students will be assigned to a different teacher (than their current teacher). However, it is possible that your student’s current teacher becomes their online teacher. If you choose hybrid learning, it is also possible that your student will be assigned to a different teacher (as their current teacher may become an online teacher). 

What does distance learning look like for special education? Will my student get to keep their SAI/speech teacher?


Students who receive special education services will continue to receive appropriate services if they choose to continue online learning.  Case managers and service providers often change during the year as caseloads fluctuate at our schools.  Much like with general education, we anticipate some reorganization to ensure that our service providers are able to continue to provide quality services to each of our students they serve, whether attending school in a hybrid model, or choosing online learning.  If there will be a change in service provider or teacher for any of our students, our teams will ensure a smooth transition for our families and students.  

Will middle school students in distance learning still have access to electives?


Middle school students will still have access to electives. Elective courses may be limited based on the elective teachers that are able to serve students online. Hybrid elective teachers will provide asynchronous learning opportunities for online students and some synchronous learning may also be integrated.

Will ESS be available during hybrid learning?


ESS will be available to students who attend school for hybrid learning. ESS will provide after school care on the hybrid learning days, and all day care, on the days hybrid students do not attend school.  A letter with complete details about ESS care during hybrid learning is available here.  Unfortunately, due to staffing constraints and limitations in space, families that choose 100% distance learning will not be able to access ESS care.

Will transportation be provided during hybrid learning?


Yes. Home-to-school and special education transportation will be available to students that would normally receive transportation on the days they attend school in person. Physical distancing between students on the bus will be maximized to the greatest extent possible. The transportation department will be providing registration information to families beginning the week of September 21st.

Will students who are in 100% online learning be able to participate in activities with their school, including end of year events and promotion?


Every effort will be made to include online students in the full school experience. Families will continue to receive school-wide communications. Families will be included and encouraged to participate in virtual events and activities. As the school year progresses and additional events are planned and take place, families will be invited to events based on available space and current health restrictions at the time.

Can I choose which hybrid cohort my student is placed in?


Middle school students will be placed in cohorts by last name (approximately the first half of the alphabet in cohort A and the second half of the alphabet in cohort B). Elementary students will also be placed in two cohorts. You may communicate with your elementary school principal about a preference for which cohort your children will be in, but we can’t guarantee placement in that cohort.

Will siblings be placed in the same hybrid cohort?


Siblings at the same school will be placed in the same hybrid cohort. Communicate with your elementary principal if you would like your elementary school children to attend in-person instruction on the same days as your middle school children. Principals will do their best to consider those requests.  

Will there be opportunities for all students to connect once they are assigned to online and hybrid cohorts?


Online students will continue to be students at their current school and families will receive regular email communications from their teachers and principal about current events to stay connected. Hybrid and online teachers will communicate and collaborate to find creative ways to connect students during the school year.

Health and Safety Questions

When schools reopen, what happens if a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19?


The county health department (HHSA) strictly dictates the protocols in the case of COVID-19 exposure. The schools must follow county protocols based on a myriad of factors, including whether the patient is symptomatic, within 6-feet of another person for more than 15 minutes, and when they were last on campus in relation to when they were last tested for COVID-19 or began to experience symptoms. HHSA contact tracers will direct the district to notify the necessary people and will require cleaning, quarantine, or self-isolation depending on the circumstances. These documents outline the necessary steps. However, the district must consult with HHSA’s epidemiology division and receive direction on every suspected case. This is tightly monitored in the following health regulations and documents: 

How will the district respond if a teacher or student is found to have COVID-19? Will I be notified?


Please see above. You will be notified if the county health department (HHSA), with assistance from the school district, believes your child was likely exposed to COVID-19. 

When would a school have to close because of a COVID-19 outbreak?


According to the CDPH Framework for Reopening Schools: Individual school closure is recommended based on the number of cases, the percentage of the teacher/students/staff that are positive for COVID-19, and following consultation with the Local Health Officer. Individual school closure may be appropriate when there are multiple cases in multiple cohorts at a school or when at least 5 percent of the total number of teachers/student/staff are cases within a 14-day period, depending on the size and physical layout of the school.

The Local Health Officer may also determine school closure is warranted for other reasons, including results from public health investigation or other local epidemiological data.

A school district must close if 25% or more of schools in a district have closed due to COVID-19 within 14 days, and in consultation with the local public health department.

Do you need a full day to clean the school between cohorts? How will that work with your hybrid schedule?


We are required to clean and sanitize all classrooms daily. Having a day between cohorts A and B is not necessary because the same level of cleaning is required on a daily basis. 

Will schools be operating their HVAC systems? Will there be a policy about keeping doors and windows open?


Yes. The district will ensure all HVAC systems operate in such a way as to deliver the greatest number of fresh air changes feasible, per hour, including programming demand-controlled ventilation parameters to maximize outside air intake per CDPH guidance. Schools are encouraged to leave doors and windows open as feasible, however, teachers may choose to close doors and windows due to individual classroom needs and/or safety and security factors.

Will students be required to wear masks all day long?


For the protection of all students and staff, children (ages 2 and up) will be required to wear face masks while at school.  Staff or students who have a doctor’s note that exempts them from wearing a face covering will not be required to wear one. Face masks will be worn for outdoor activities unless students can maintain a distance of at least 6 feet (under supervision), or when eating or drinking.  Cloth masks will be provided to all students that need them. Parents are encouraged to find a comfortable, breathable, face mask that works best for their child. There are many great options available.

Will staff and students receive regular COVID-19 tests?


According to the HHSA: Testing is available at over 20 County-coordinated sites. All are open to school personnel and youth over the age of 12. Most locations require appointments, but no appointment walk-in testing is offered at California State University San Marcos, Tubman-Chavez Community Center and the San Ysidro Border, and a drive-in site at Mar Vista High School in Imperial Beach. The San Diego County Office of Education is working with the County to open additional testing sites in late September that will be specifically for school staff. Specific testing information is available at Most students and their caregivers can receive COVID-19 tests through Rady Children’s Hospital. Parents should contact their pediatrician or e-mail Rady Children’s Hospital at Students and caregivers who are covered by Kaiser Permanente can consult their pediatrician or physician directly for guidance on COVID-19 testing by visiting 

It is expected that a future health order will require that school staff be tested every other month. This is currently a recommendation only. Currently, regular testing is not required for students. 

If schools have to close after they reopen for hybrid learning, how will students receive instruction?


If schools were closed again, students would remain with their current teacher(s) at the time of the closure. The teachers would serve the students in a 100% online format. This is the same format our schools are currently using to serve students (50% synchronous and 50% asynchronous online learning).

Has outdoor learning been considered for LMSV?


Each of our campuses is unique in its layout and structure, but we are fortunate that many classrooms and campuses have outdoor areas that can be accessed for learning. We know that our sites and teachers will maximize those opportunities, weather permitting, but those opportunities will be left up to our teachers to determine based on the appropriateness to the instructional program.  We will also be maximizing the use of our outdoor space for lunch periods.  

Will students have recess? Can students eat lunch with their friends?


Each school will create consistent recess and lunch cohorts that will be determined based on the capacity to maximize distancing on the playground and at lunch. Social interaction is important, and our sites have been planning for ways that children can play together in ways that minimize risk and reduce sharing of equipment, but still allow them to move their bodies.  Our ESS program has provided great examples of how to do this at our childcare program, and have shared lots of creative ideas with our schools.  

Will parents be allowed to walk their children on campus in the morning?


Yes. Parents will be allowed to walk their children on campus. However, parents will be required to wear a mask and maintain 6-feet of physical distance from others (except their own children). Parents will not be permitted to linger on campus once students have been entrusted to a teacher or site staff.

Will volunteers be permitted on campus?


Some necessary volunteers will be permitted on campus. Volunteers will follow the same regulations as staff and must submit to daily health screening. 

How will you ensure students maintain physical distance on campus?


Our schools have been planning since March for the return of students. In June, when CDPH finally released their guidance for school reopening, school teams began intentionally planning for how to maximize distancing for students on campus.  These include planning for how traffic flow will work in hallways, entrance and exit points for campus, spacing of furniture in classrooms, and spacing and supervision at lunch and recess.  By reducing the number of students on campus to half or less (by opening in a hybrid model), we are able to further maximize distancing. However, students will not be expected to maintain 6-feet of distance from each other at all times. Per CDPH guidelines, the school must maximize space between students and they must remain in the same space and in cohorts as small and consistent as practicable. This is why the use of masks and increased hygiene practices is so important. 

What other safety provisions will be in place at each school?


Students, staff, and visitors will be required to wear face coverings. There will be daily health screenings and temperature checks for all staff and students. Anyone exhibiting symptoms of upper respiratory infection (that is not due to a known condition, such as allergies) or fever will not be permitted on campus. Classrooms will be limited to half capacity. Classrooms and high touch surfaces will be cleaned and sanitized daily. Bathrooms will be cleaned and sanitized throughout the day. HVAC systems have been tuned to ensure maximum efficiency and fresh air exchange. Handwashing stations will be installed in areas that lack ready access to sinks. Hand sanitizer will be accessible and used frequently. Signage will be used across the school. Drinking fountains will only be utilized to fill cups and water bottles. Students are encouraged to bring a water bottle to school with their name clearly written on it.  Protocols will be put in place to limit direct contact as students and staff navigate the campus.  Supplies and other instructional materials will not be shared, or will be cleaned between uses.  Additionally, each school will soon post a county reopening plan on their website. The plan will detail the safety measure in place on campus. Safety measures are strictly governed by local, state, and federal guidelines as discussed above. 

Please refer to the following documents for more information about safety requirements: 

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