St. Augustine High School (Saints), located in San Diego, safely and successfully completed both its summer school and summer athletic programs for more than 400 students. Complying with county health requirements and implementing rigorous safety measures, Saints was able to offer in-person learning for 214 students and athletic training programs for 192 athletes without any reports of oncampus Covid-19 cases. Moving forward, Saints is exploring all options to offer the best educational experience for their students. Saints filed a lawsuit, August, 6th, against Governor Newsom, and related state officials, seeking to prohibit the enforcement of Governor Newsom’s discriminatory school shutdown order, thereby allowing Saints to bring its students back to campus for in-person schooling. Seven families of students attending Saints, including Timothy Cabana, Juan and Gabriella Enciso, Cesar and Blanca Gonzalez, Martha Hernandez, Thelma Villasenor, Tomasa White, and Antonio Zazueta, have joined in the lawsuit. Saints will offer a distance learning option for those families who don’t want to send their children back to school.
“At Saints, we don’t believe remote learning is sufficient to provide a quality education our students are entitled to and our families have come to expect,” said Principal James Horne. “We are confident we can open our school safely, consistent with CDC and San Diego County health guidance. We ran a safe and successful summer school program and believe it is an indicator that we can safely return to school in the fall.”
Saints encourages open communication with its families in an effort to fully understand its students and their families concerns. It is clear that many families fear the negative mental health impacts by keeping kids isolated in a distance learning environment, while some fear exposure to Covid-19. Many Saints’ families have two working parents that want to ensure their children are in a safe learning environment during the day. Many students also come from low income families that deserve the right to a quality education; the virtual learning environment has proven more difficult for children of low-income families. After appeals from many families to return to the classroom, Saints is pursuing the best way to offer opportunities that are the right fit for all its students and families.
With the success they achieved during their summer programs, Saints intends to implement the same rigorous measures that will provide a safe return to the classroom for those students that choose in-person learning. Each student will be required to wear masks and adhere to social distancing requirements, the air conditioning systems will use UV lights that were installed over the summer to sanitize the air circulating in classrooms and buildings, and buildings and classrooms will be routinely sanitized with an electrostatic disinfecting mist system. All measures will promote a safe and healthy environment.
“The 2020 Summer School session was modified to adhere to the local, state and National health guidelines,” said Saints’ summer program Principal John O’Beirne. “The faculty and staff did an excellent job providing a safe and healthy environment while creating an active and rigorous curriculum. Both students and faculty were excited to be part of the Summer Program.”
The majority of students want to return to in-person learning in the fall, having their confidence bolstered by the success of the summer school programs. “I felt safe in my environment,” said rising sophomore student, Michael Tompkins, of his experience in summer school. “I was not scared to come to school, because the guidelines the school set for our return made me feel good about being back in class.”
Saints uses a teaching technique called relational teaching. It emphasizes the importance of connectivity and relationships between the student and teacher as well as their fellow Saintsmen. Saints believes in “The Brotherhood” in which students remain bonded for life. For these reasons, the faculty and staff are committed to doing what it takes to return to this type of environment for learning.
The mission of St. Augustine High School is to provide a Catholic liberal arts education for young men in an environment that promotes the development of the mind, heart and body in the Augustinian tradition.
For questions or to request interviews please contact Jeannie Groeneveld at Jeannie.firstname.lastname@example.org