The San Diego Unified School District welcomed students back to classrooms Monday with expanded Universal Transitional Kindergarten at 118 schools, middle school sports and — thanks to Assembly Bill 130 signed last year — free breakfast and lunches for all students.
Starting his first full school year as superintendent, Lamont Jackson — who was hired to the position in March after serving as interim superintendent much of the previous school year — said the “health, safety and wellbeing of students and staff continue to be the district’s top priority.”
“We are so excited to welcome back our students and staff to San Diego Unified for a brand new school year that is full of new opportunities,” Jackson said. “This year is about making sure all students feel seen and heard. It’s about providing rigorous academics, extended learning opportunities, and safe and nurturing schools.”
Students and staff are strongly encouraged — but not required — to wear masks indoors. Schools will continue with other COVID-19 mitigations, including air filtration, sanitizing efforts and recommended COVID-19 vaccinations. According to the district, individual school metrics and county data will be used to determine whether masking may be needed at a particular school.
“Our first obligation is always to keep everyone as safe as possible. With the help of so many people we’ve done that and will continue to do that,” SDUSD Board President Sharon Whitehurst-Payne said. “But now, more of our focus can return to teaching and learning and providing every student with their best chance to become their best.”
School district leaders marked the beginning of another school year at the Logan Memorial Educational Campus, a new prenatal-to-career public Montessori campus. The campus is undergoing a whole-site modernization project that began in 2018. Construction is expected to be completed this winter.
LMEC offers a child development center known as El Nido, a preschool, an elementary school, a middle school and a high school. The high school, the first ever built in Logan Heights, is opening its doors to freshmen this year, with higher grade levels opening in subsequent years.
“This incredible facility is not only an investment in the students who attend, but also for the surrounding community,” said Michael Vea, LMEC instructional support officer. “With the partnerships we’re forming and the support we’ve been given by the district and local families, we believe LMEC can become not only a model for San Diego Unified but for the entire state.”
Amid a nationwide teaching shortage, the school year will include a focus on recruiting, retaining and supporting staff at schools throughout the district. Central office staff will be on hand to support schools in the opening weeks of the year.
Deputy Superintendent Fabiola Bagula said equity and belonging is at the core of the district’s work.
“Too often equity is misunderstood,” Bagula said. “Equity is about ensuring we meet the needs of all students in what they need, how they need it, and when they need it.”
“It takes our collective community to achieve equity and to create the most optimal learning conditions for all students to leave with a meaningful diploma and lead a choice filled life college- and career-ready,” she said. “This also has positive implications of how we work together and support each other in service of our students.”
City News Service contributed to this article.