Newport-Mesa school district votes to delay reopening in-person classes for middle, high schoolers

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Julia Graham, left, and Karla Rivera hold signs in protest outside of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District offices in Costa Mesa on Oct. 8, 2020. (Scott Smeltzer/ Times Community News)

Julia Graham, left, and Karla Rivera hold signs in protest outside of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District offices in Costa Mesa on Oct. 8, 2020. (Scott Smeltzer/ Times Community News)

Thousands of middle and high school students poised to return to Newport-Mesa Unified School District campuses Monday under a hybrid learning plan will have to stay put after district officials admitted Thursday they were not prepared for the move.

Amid much confusion and debate — and as 125 demonstrators in favor of a return rallied outside the district’s Costa Mesa headquarters — board members voted 5-1 to delay reopening schools until no later than Dec. 17. Trustee Vicki Snell cast the lone dissenting vote. Trustee Dana Black was absent.

A special meeting was called for Thursday, one day after officials learned school principals had not yet figured out how to bring back large groups of students in a way that would accommodate the small, distanced cohorts required by state school reopening guidelines.

Supt. Russell Lee-Sung explained it proved too challenging to evenly break students into small groups while still assuring distanced desks and adequate teaching staff.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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