ATASCADERO — The Atascadero Unified School District Board of Trustees had a brief meeting on Tuesday night centered around reopening secondary schools, which is now delayed until San Luis Obispo County gets back into the Red Tier.
On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom forced 27 counties in California back a tier in the Blueprint for a Safer Economy, which included SLO and Santa Barbara counties moving to the most-restrictive Purple Tier.
According to the Blueprint, schools that are open for in-person learning may remain open, but schools that are not must stay in distance learning until their counties are out of the Purple Tier for two weeks. Schools can still apply for an in-person waiver for elementary students.
AUSD had opened its elementary schools with hybrid instruction when the County moved from Purple to Red nearly two months ago. The District also has a waiver for its elementary schools.
Before Monday, Nov. 16, AUSD was planning to bring middle and high school students back to campuses for some in-person learning at the start of the second half of the school year on Jan. 5. SLO County has to be in the Purple Tier for three weeks and can only move out if its COVID-19 metrics improve for two consecutive weeks.
“If a school is open for in-person instruction, it may remain open,” AUSD Superintendent Tom Butler said. “This means that all of our elementary schools can remain open and will remain open at this time for in-person services. If the school is not open for instruction, this would apply to Atascadero High School, Atascadero Middle School, Paloma Creek High School, and the Fine Arts Academy sixth through eighth grade; they cannot open for instruction. If we are in Purple on Jan. 5, which is a little way out, if we are in purple on Jan. 5 … we will be remaining in full distance learning.”
Butler continued explaining that certain parts of society will begin easing up on restrictions immediately once the community gets into the Red Tier. However, for schools to open, the county would need to remain in the Red Tier for two weeks.
“While we can debate that [restrictions against opening schools] at least, it is clear, and because that is clear, when we move into the Red Tier, I will activate all our staff with a date where we will be reopening, which will be based on that two weeks,” Butler said. “We will be notifying parents that we are going to be able to transition into that reopening.”
During the meeting, Butler also reported the recent parent survey results regarding whether their child will remain in distance learning or return to in-person instruction through the hybrid model when permitted.
Middle school parents in the District were split right down the middle, with 50% choosing full distance learning and 50% choosing the in-person instruction. High school parents responded similarly, with 52% choosing full distance learning, while 48% prefer the in-person option.