The Glendale Unified School District is prepared to bring select students back for in-person instruction at Horace Mann Elementary School starting on Monday.
A portion of transitional kindergarten and regular kindergarten students will return to class at the elementary school, split into small groups so as to allow for proper social distancing and hygiene protocols. District officials plan to evaluate the return process and adapt to allow 1st- and 2nd-grade students to tentatively join them in the coming weeks.
The school will be making use of technology to allow students who remain at home under distance learning protocol to receive their instruction simultaneous to the
in-person teaching that will now happen.
“Teachers will have an opportunity to pilot various methods of concurrent teaching with small cohorts of students, particularly how to use technology for students who are learning from home and for students who are in the classroom,” GUSD Superintendent Vivian Ekchian said. “This will help us develop a model that we can learn from and continue to refine when we are able to bring more students back for on-campus instruction.”
Los Angeles County officials granted GUSD a reopening waiver for Mann Elementary before the current surge in coronavirus cases, the intensity of which has provoked the county and state to clamp back down on public outings and other facets of general reopening. The county has since ceased to grant additional waivers, while GUSD officials have stated they have no plans for additional reopening programs while the surge continues.
Districts could only apply by individual school and not across their entire purview. The county was granting waivers based on “at-risk” student populations and generally split evenly among the five supervisorial districts. Only TK through 2nd-grade students are able to return for in-person instruction at the moment.
According to Kristine Nam, communications director for GUSD, Mann Elementary was selected for the first waiver application on account of its student population — 91% are considered socioeconomically disadvantaged, while 56% are English language learners.
To apply for waivers, districts have to have approval from the teachers and staff at the school sites as well as by applicable parent and other support groups.
“This has been a very collaborative effort among teachers, school and district administrators and parents who have been anxiously awaiting this step,” the superintendent said.
Ekchian said that although there is not a concrete schedule for making vaccines available to teachers, she currently expects that time to begin in early February. The district may make vaccination sites available at campus sites districtwide when that time comes, she added.
Public health guidelines from the county mandate school closure for 14 days in the event an outbreak of at least three COVID-19 cases is documented at the school within a 14-day window.
Students will be grouped by cohorts that are to remain consistent day-to-day, no larger than 12 children. The school has protocols established to avoid potential intersections of different cohorts — staggered break times, designated up or down stairwells and the relocation of meal times to classrooms, as examples.
All areas of the school are to be disinfected daily, with restrooms disinfected three times a day and the cafeteria as often as necessary. Students are to be dropped off and picked up by families daily — there will be no busing.
The full report reviewed by the public health department can be viewed on the district’s website, gusd.net.
Distance teaching will otherwise continue for the remainder of the district’s students, as will the “learning pods” that the district implemented to provide childcare for elementary students at the start of the school year. Many of the protocols for
in-person instruction were adapted from those pods, Ekchian said.
In bringing Mann Elementary’s youngest to classrooms, Ekchian noted that for many of the students, this will be their first steps into a school.
“I’m thrilled that we are able to serve our students and families who want an on-campus learning experience,” the superintendent said. “We are excited to begin this journey to provide our students with a more traditional school setting.”