Ventura Unified high schools will remain on distance learning until tentative date, April 12


Joshua Villasenor

Foothill Tech will remain empty as distance learning continues until April 12.

Nicole Stidham, Reporter

On Jan. 5, 2021, the Ventura Unified School District (Ventura Unified) School Board met to discuss the possibility of reopening schools. The board has set that secondary schools will remain closed and on distance learning until the new target date of April 12, 2021. 

The board previously announced a return date of Jan. 26, 2021 to reopen for hybrid learning, but due to the COVID-19 surge in Ventura County, the district has decided that the chances of secondary schools reopening at that date will not be possible. Conditions will now have to settle by March in order for the possibility of hybrid learning at the secondary level. 

As of Jan. 5,  Ventura County is in the purple tier, the positivity rate is 13.5% and the number of cases are 58.9 per 100,000, according to Ventura County Recovers. In order for secondary schools to reopen safely, the county of Ventura must be in the red-tier for two weeks, the positivity rate must be less than 8% and the number of cases needs to be seven or fewer per 100,000, according to an email sent out by the district.

Even with the new target date set in place, Superintendent Roger Rice is still skeptical about whether the situation will improve in time to reopen schools in April. Also, the week before the scheduled reopening is spring break, which could halt the scheduled reopening, due to gatherings that may occur during this time. 

Russell Gibbs, principal of Foothill Technology High School (Foothill Tech), offered some insight on the topic of reopening school safely. Gibbs, “know[s] the numbers are bleak,” but he has, “no choice but to be the eternal optimist,” for students returning to school in the spring.

If all goes according to as planned, students will return to school on a hybrid schedule, by April 12. But, in the meantime, Gibbs is working on plans to, “expand [the] small group offerings to try and reach every struggling student here at Foothill, while also doing our best to offer enrichment opportunities to students.” 

It is important to note that the date of April 12, 2021, is only a target date for reopening secondary schools safely, if conditions allow. Small groups and athletics cohorts will begin, “as soon as possible and no later than the week of Mon. Jan. 11, 2021 [along with] Special Education assessments [which] will also resume on Jan. 11,” according to the email sent out by the district. 

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