Schools in The Coachella Valley are eyeing the possibility of returning to school in late March, but no official date has been set for students to return. As coronavirus numbers trend downwards and restrictions are slowly eased, students returning to classrooms inches closer.
There are many boxes that have to be checked before that happens, one of which is a safety plan filed with the county.
“Now they have to have a covid safety plan that is approved both by the public health and by the state, and the safety plans layout everything, distancing, how often you’re testing, what to do if someone’s sick, what you do for separation, how you keep the students together. Everything you can imagine about making sure the schools are safe,” said Michael Osur, Assistant Director with Riverside County Public Health.
NBC Palm Springs reached out to local districts asking if they are circling any dates for a possible return. Palm Springs Unified saying later in March could be a possibility but a date is still to be determined with more information expected soon.
And with rumors swirling of an early March return for Desert Sands Unified School District, officials issuing a statement saying:
“We await further direction from the riverside county health officials. notice of return to in-classroom learning will be shared with all local media as soon as we have information to share.”
As discussion continues for public schools, one valley private school is set to welcome students back.
“When the county moved back into the more restrictive tier, I believe the purple tier, and we were able to stay open as long as we met certain county health benchmarks and state health benchmarks, so we did,” said Chris Alling, President/Principal at Xavier Prep.
Xavier Prep hasn’t had students on campus since before Christmas break, but as they monitor the numbers, school leaders are comfortable moving forward.
“We have 540 kids, again our model is completely voluntary. If students want to come back, they feel safe and confident, they can do so. if they don’t, they can continue to engage in class in a synchronous way with their classmates in the classroom using the technology that you and i are using today,” explained Alling.
And vaccines continue to be an important element for teachers to feel safe, and confident, to step foot in the classroom again.
“A lot of our teachers have gotten first, and some have even gotten second vaccinations and that has really enhanced their confidence to feel safe coming back to the classroom and being with students,” said Alling.