November 18, 2020
Dear SPUSD Students, Parents, Faculty and Staff,
In my last letter, I explained revisions to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health/Board of Supervisors TK-2 waiver application process designed to allow small groups of students in these grades to return to school. South Pasadena Unified School District (SPUSD) submitted the waiver application near the end of October and as of yesterday all three elementary schools in our District have received waiver approvals and will receive a site visit by the Technical Assistance Team from the County Health Department.
We received the approvals much faster than we anticipated. This is due to Los Angeles County officials increasing the number of waivers approved each week (from 30 to 50). Please note that receiving a waiver does not mean that the elementary schools will open immediately for students in grades TK-2. All students will remain in distance learning through at least December 18, 2020 as previously announced and in light of the recent surge in community spread of COVID-19 cases in California.
Now that the waivers have been approved, the County will send a team of specialists to each school to evaluate and review the protocols to ensure that the physical space is ready to welcome students in a safe way. Timing for this visit is to be determined and is likely to occur within the next two to three weeks. Members of the SPUSD COVID-19 Compliance Task Force, comprised of parents, teachers, administrators and health professionals, also will visit the schools to reexamine and make certain that safety precautions that help prevent the spread of COVID-19 are in place.
In addition, we will continue to review current data provided by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health about the local, regional and State COVID-19 rates which have significantly increased during the last week. A possible date for reopening to students in grades TK-2 will be determined after the necessary steps are completed and current data is evaluated.
Our teachers, staff and administrators are working hard supporting students through distance learning. Following the Thanksgiving break, they will begin planning for implementing the elementary hybrid model by assigning students into AM/PM groups (see the SPUSD 2020-2021 School Opening & Safety Plan
for details). Additional information is forthcoming and will be provided by our principals when it is available.
We continue to review our distance learning model and student progress, as well as invest in preparations for a possible student return to the elementary schools in the primary grades. However, according to the LA County Department of Public Health, if case rates continue to increase and we have exhausted all interventions to limit the spread of the virus, it is possible that new restrictions will be issued for the County or State of California. This means that we again may receive recommendations or orders for all schools to return to distance learning for all grades. Health Officer Barbara Ferrer said on Thursday last week, “I need to ask that every school be prepared for virtual learning, distance learning, in January.”
As a reminder, the most important steps we can take to lower transmission of COVID-19 are to continue wearing face coverings everywhere, keeping six feet of distance between each other, washing our hands frequently/using hand sanitizer, and keeping a physical distance from, and avoiding gatherings with, people outside our households.
We will keep you updated when we receive additional information about future school reopenings for students in grades TK-2. Thank you for your patience.
Geoff Yantz, Ed.D.