By Collin Breaux | Email: cbreaux@picketfencemedia.com | Twitter: @collin_breaux

A phased plan to reopen campuses to students for face-to-face instruction is moving forward as planned.

Capistrano Unified School District (CUSD) Board of Trustees President Jim Reardon confirmed the reopenings are still a go, as of this posting.

Under the plan, special education programs and services are scheduled to return starting on Sept. 28, preschool through fifth grade starting on Sept. 29 through Oct. 5, middle school starting on Oct. 6 and high school starting on Oct. 13.

The phased returns to campus are in accordance with the state’s tiered and colored coronavirus monitoring system. Orange County moved into the red tier on Sept. 8, facilitating more in-person activities. Coronavirus cases in Orange County have gradually declined and are expected to continue trending downward.

Capistrano Unified School District has dealt with campus closures and shifting conditions and guidelines throughout 2020.

CUSD has also submitted a waiver for elementary schools, which is being processed by Orange County officials. The waiver, if approved, would essentially guarantee CUSD can reopen elementary campuses even if state guidelines again change.

“Reopening elementary has been the board’s priority since May,” Reardon said.

JSerra Catholic High School English teacher Amy Hemphill talks to her students during a virtual class on Friday, Aug. 21. Photo: Collin Breaux. 

The district has outlined various guidelines for what campus instruction will look like, including arranging classrooms to facilitate social distancing, requiring facial coverings for students and staff, and limiting the number of students in classrooms. Families have also been given the option to continue using online learning instead of returning to campus.

Temperatures will be taken before students enter a first class. Students who don’t wear facial coverings will initially receive a warning, and then reassigned to online learning after several warnings.

Campuses have been closed since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and students began the 2020-21 school year with online learning on Aug. 18.

Students throughout the district have recently spoken with The Capistrano Dispatch on how they’ve adjusted to the start of an unusual school year and miss being in the classroom with their friends.

The San Juan Hills High School campus has been closed since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. High school campuses in Capistrano Unified School District could reopen in the coming weeks. Photo: Collin Breaux

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