Dear SPUSD Students, Parents, Faculty and Staff,
We hope everyone is staying healthy and doing well as we prepare for our Winter Break. I wanted to provide you with a few updates with respect to the current COVID-19 environment along with our plan for the reopening of schools for our youngest students.
Grades TK-2 Waiver Update
In late November, SPUSD received approval from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LADPH) for a TK-2 waiver to reopen schools for students in these grade levels. We know many of you are anxious to have students return to the classroom. Our team, along with the SPUSD COVID-19 Compliance Task Force, has continued to prepare our schools for a safe reopening, and we have a very robust and thorough plan in place (2020-2021 School Opening & Safety Plan). LADPH will be sending representatives to each elementary school on January 7, 2021 to ensure that the proper safety protocols are being followed, and members of our team and the COVID-19 Compliance Task Force will be present during these visits.
SPUSD Reopening Plans
We anticipate that SPUSD will meet the expectations and safety guidelines set forth by the county to proceed with a limited, phased reopening. Given the dynamic COVID-19 landscape, we will continue to closely monitor data and will update you accordingly.
For planning purposes, January 27, 2021 is the tentative return date for preschool special education students, transitional kindergarten, and kindergarten students. February 1, 2021 is the tentative return date for students in K-2 Special Day Class, first, and second grades. Please note that once students return to school, the SPUSD Daycare Program will no longer be available due to LADPH protocols and space constraints on campus. All SPUSD Daycare staff will continue working to support in-person instruction.
The proposed reopening dates above give us time to evaluate the impact of the current surge of coronavirus cases in school settings and time to thoroughly educate faculty and staff on in-school safety protocols to ensure the guidelines will be strictly followed.
In January, elementary school principals will host Parent Town Hall meetings to share detailed health and safety protocols as well as walk parents through what reopening will look like. Families also will receive information about the placement of students into AM and PM groups so they can plan accordingly.
LA County’s Current Stay-at-Home Order
We are acutely aware of coronavirus transmission within Los Angeles County and the recent increases in the number of positive cases and hospitalizations. It is important to note that Governor Newsom’s revised stay-at-home order does not affect in-person instruction for school districts that have already opened or plan to open soon (like SPUSD), including schools with or without a waiver. The Governor specifically stated that schools that have opened should remain open with all the necessary precautions in place. Dr. Ghaly, secretary of California’s Health and Human Services Agency, also said that schools are not the source of the recent COVID-19 surges. He added that schools continue to have low case and transmission rates, and may remain open during this time.
It is critical that we all do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19 including following the governor’s most recent order. Public health officials have cited evidence that wearing face coverings, distancing, staying away from crowds and gatherings, and following all the current business protocols to protect employees and customers will help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. These are important measures for all of us to follow so that we may proceed with our future reopening efforts.
Please know that having our students, faculty and staff return to school soon and as safely as possible is something we all want and are eager to have happen. At the same time, health and safety remains at the forefront of every decision. To our students and families with students in grades 3-12, we will continue to prepare the school sites with proper safety protocols for a possible phased, reopening process. At this time, there is no indication if or when the secondary schools will reopen. However, new state legislation (AB 10) is proposed that will require schools in the Red, Orange, or Yellow tiers to reopen and implement a plan to do so within two weeks, in accordance with public health parameters.
We will continue to monitor the landscape, the data, and the guidelines and make adjustments to our reopening plan and the tentative return dates as warranted. For additional information from Dr. Kenneth Zangwill, Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist and Director of Infection Prevention and Control for Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, and SPUSD District Nurse and COVID-19 Compliance Task Force Officer Abigail Silver, please join us for the next SPUSD Board Meeting open session on Tuesday, December 15 at 6:30 p.m. You may access the meeting via live broadcast here.
Thank you to our students, families and all SPUSD faculty and staff for your fortitude and understanding, and we hope you and your families continue to stay safe.
Geoff Yantz, Ed.D.