LONG BEACH PENINSULA — The Ocean Beach School District announced Thursday afternoon that its schools will return to remote-only learning, beginning next week.

The announcement comes as Pacific County is in the midst of its worst coronavirus surge since the pandemic began, and a day after 55 new cases in the county were reported. OBSD began the school year with remote learning, but low case counts at the end of summer and beginning of fall allowed its schools to transition into entirely in-person or hybrid learning models in late September.

The district opted to return to remote learning following a recommendation from the Pacific County Health and Human Services Department, as well as state recommendations. As of Nov. 18, the county’s case rate is 438 new cases per 100,000 people over a two-week rolling average, putting it firmly in the high-risk category when it comes to holding in-person learning at schools, according to state recommendations.

In a letter to families, the district said remote learning will begin next Monday, Nov. 23, and continue through at least Jan. 8. In the new year, the district said it will coordinate with the county health department to verify that it may return to in-person instruction as early as Jan. 11.

While each of the schools will return to remote learning, the district said that some students will still receive on-campus services in order to meet targeted individual needs. Additional protocols will be enacted for these in-person interactions, the district said, with families of students being offered these services expected to be contacted next week.

According to Superintendent Amy Huntley, there was one OBSD class in quarantine as of Nov. 18 due to a previous positive covid-19 case. At that time, Huntley said the most recent coronavirus cases had “minimal impact” on the district, but emphasized that the situation is fluid and could change at any moment.

"We are always contemplating if we should stay in person or be remote," said Huntley on Nov. 18. "It is extremely difficult trying to balance the needs of families, the mental and physical health of the children, and the safety of staff."

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