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A back to school date for students in the Santa Ana Unified School District is not on the books yet, but when instruction begins it will be in a virtual classroom.

On Tuesday, the Santa Ana Unified School District announced it will “pivot entirely to distance learning” at the start of the upcoming school year out of concern for the safety and well being of the entire school community because of the continuing coronavirus pandemic.

“During these challenging times, the safety of our school community continues to be our top priority. While we hope at some point to have our students attend our schools alongside their classmates and teachers, now is not the time,” Jerry Almendarez, district superintendent, said in a news release. “Meanwhile, we are working to develop a rigorous distance learning plan that will allow students to continue their education at home.” 

The district’s announcement comes on the heels of the Orange County Board of Education’s 4-1 vote on Monday evening to support reopening schools without social distancing, face mask requirements or other coronavirus safety protocols set in stone. The Board of Education said the final decision on reopening plans would be left up to each school district.

In its statement, SAUSD said it believes a “full distance learning model” is the safest option for the SAUSD community at large.

Santa Ana has been identified as one of Orange County’s coronavirus hot spots. As of Monday, the city had nearly 5,000 coronavirus cases confirmed.

The District is aiming to resume instruction in August, but a date has not yet been announced.

“Making the decision now to shift to a virtual education model gives the District more time to make sure our teachers are fully prepared, our parents are well informed, and our students have access to devices and internet needed for us to deliver the highest quality service during this time,” SAUSD Board of Education President Rigo Rodriguez said.

More detailed information about the district’s plan to resume instruction virtually will be released in the coming weeks.

On Monday, the Los Angeles Unified School District also announced that in-person classes will not resume when the school year begins Aug. 18.