San Diego school sues Governor Newsom due to COVID-19 school shutdown

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – A San Diego Catholic high school is filing a lawsuit that challenges the governor’s order banning in-person classes this Fall, unless COVID-19 infection rates decline.

Saint Augustine filed the complaint in San Diego Superior Court on Thursday, saying the ban will cause greater harm to its low income students of color.

While online learning is being touted as a good alternative to opening the schools during a pandemic, Saint Augustine claimed it did not work well for many of its low income students whose parents were unable to work from home and did not have the means to hire private tutors.

Fifty-two percent of the students receive some sort of financial aid to attend the private school.

Based on the experience with online learning last spring, school president Ed Hearn said parents are worried about the academic and mental health effects of keeping kids out of class.

The school has already been through a kind of trial run, opening its doors for six weeks of summer school. A photograph shared by the school showed the summer school students in masks, seated far apart.

Two hundred fourteen students participated in the summer classes and nearly 200 students came to school for sports training. Hearn said no one in the program became infected from being on campus.

If the school wins its lawsuit, Hearn said students would return for in-person classes four days a week and one day online.

Classes on campus would be divided into two sections of no more than 13 to 14 students in each group. While one section goes to a classroom with a teacher. The other would go to a larger supervised space to work.

Hearn said the football field, the gymnasium and basketball courts would be just some of the places on the seven and a half acre campus which students could use as a workspace.

Hearn said the school is already focused on cleaning and sanitation, by spraying high touch surfaces with a special disinfectant and installing an ultraviolet light feature in the heating and air conditioning system, that would kill the virus in the re-circulated air.

If there is an outbreak involving several students, the school would use contact tracing to try to contain the spread.

One day after the complaint was filed, attorneys for the school asked for a temporary injunction that would block the state from enforcing its order on bringing students back to school.

As of now, the Saint Augustine School year begins August 25th with online learning but that may change if the school wins its battle in court.

Categories: Coronavirus, Local San Diego News