LCUSD Ready to Bring Back 3rd-Graders

The La Cañada Unified School District governing board unanimously voted last week to expand on-campus services by welcoming back 3rd-grade students on Feb.16 for in-person instruction.
Superintendent Wendy Sinnette said the move was possible because nearly half of families with 3rd-graders opted for the district’s virtual learning academy for the entire school year. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health permits schools to open for specialized services as long as the number of students on campus does not exceed 25% of total enrollment.
“I’m just very appreciative of the administrative team that’s worked so hard to implement all the protocols,” Sinnette told the Outlook Valley Sun on Tuesday. “I think it’s been fabulous that we’ve maintained a really positive and collaborative working relationship with both [the teachers and classified employees associations].”
The hybrid schedule — a modified schedule consisting of in-person instruction and remote learning — developed by LCUSD keeps La Cañada, Palm Crest and Paradise Canyon elementary schools under the enrollment threshold set by the county and keeps students in groups of 12. La Cañada will follow the same protocols implemented in November when the district was granted a transitional kindergarten-2nd grade waiver by the county.
Newly-elected board member Josh Epstein expressed confidence in expanding on-campus services instruction after observing in-person instruction at LCE.
“It really was heartwarming and affirming to see [kindergarten-2nd-graders] back,” he said during last week’s virtual board meeting, “to see how well they were following protocols and the mask use. I said to the principal there that mask use seems to be better than it is at Ralphs.”
Community members lauded district staff members for their effort, and Sinnette assured them that there is more work to be done.
“I’m thankful to the parents for the support,” she said. “I know this is hard on all of our families, so I appreciate people’s patience. I just hope we’re deserving of their trust. We’re maintaining health and safety protocols and doing everything in our power to have a phased reopening wherever the opportunity presents itself.”
Public health officials told Sinnette that districts would be allowed to expand in-person instruction to grades 4-6 when the COVID-19 case rate drops to 25 per 100,000. The superintendent said that L.A. County was at 45 per 100,000 as of last week.
A hybrid schedule is in place at all elementary school grade levels, but the same can’t be said for La Cañada High School and LCHS 7/8. The number of students in one campus makes it difficult for the district to adhere to county health orders related to COVID-19. LCUSD notified families with students in grades 7-12 that they will continue virtual instruction through at least March 19.
Reopening for grades 7-12 is not permissible because L.A. County remains in the purple tier, which indicates widespread infection. Los Angeles has yet to come out of the purple tier since the coronavirus pandemic began.
With more employees on campus, the district reached an agreement with Valencia Branch Laboratory to expand COVID-19 testing. Sinnette said testing is optional for employees, but she wanted to increase testing capability should health officials require employees and students to be tested in the future.
LCUSD also has a partnership with USC Verdugo Hills Hospital that will provide vaccinations for employees in the near future. However, the sought-after vaccines remain scarce throughout the state.
“The vaccine supply shortage is impacting our timeline for staff appointments with USC VHH,” Sinnette wrote in an email. “We remain hopeful for a start date in late February. We remain grateful to USC VHH for their amazing community partnership.”

Leave a Reply