LCUSD Diversity Plan Takes 
a Step Forward

After much work, deliberation and delay, the La Cañada Unified School District took a monumental step in its diversity, equity and inclusion initiative and is ready to push forward the plan that has been in the works since last August.

The LCUSD Governing Board unanimously adopted two documents pertaining to DEI during a virtual meeting on Tuesday, including one that details the district’s objectives, guiding principles, DEI definitions and commitment statement.

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More Students — and Sports — Returning to LCUSD

Photos courtesy Jason Sarceda
The La Cañada High School varsity football team had its first official practice of the year on Monday. The players practiced in helmets on Monday and put on pads for the first time in nearly a year on Wednesday.

Nearly a year after closing its school sites to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the La Cañada Unified School District took another step closer to returning to normalcy this week by welcoming 4th-graders back to campus for limited in-person instruction.
The district will complete its elementary reopening of in-person instruction by bringing back 5th graders today and 6th graders on Monday, March 8.
“We are so excited to welcome back to school our 4th-graders on the hybrid schedule this past Monday and Tuesday,” LCUSD Superintendent Wendy Sinnette said in an email. “The expanded reopening went really smoothly and helped pave the way for the return of 5th-graders on Thursday and 6th-graders on March 8. We are so grateful to our teachers and staff who have supported these transitions back to in-person instruction.
“We have missed our students immensely over the past year and know that the return to in-person instruction is a priority for the entire LCUSD community.”
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LCUSD Prepares Wider Campus Return Amid Cautious Rollout

‘They’re So Tall!’ 3rd Grade Welcomed Back

Outlook Valley Sun Photo
Energized students are dismissed from La Cañada Elementary School on Wednesday, the first day of an optional return to in-person instruction for 3rd graders. LCUSD is one of the few districts in Southern California to offer on-campus instruction.

The sight of 3rd-graders having their temperature checked before entering campus might not be a normal one for La Cañada Elementary Principal Emily Blaney, but it certainly is a welcome one. Her school, along with Paradise Canyon and Palm Crest, provided in-person instruction to children in 3rd grade for the first time in 11 months on Tuesday.
“We haven’t seen them in a whole year,” Blaney said of the 3rd-graders. “They’re so tall. We just noticed how much they grew.”
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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].”
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Board President Puglia Dives Into Challenges for Schools

Outlook Valley Sun file photo
La Cañada Unified School District Governing Board President Kaitzer Puglia (center) is flanked by board members Joe Radabaugh and Dan Jeffries at a previous meeting. Puglia was recently named to lead the board this year, one expected to present numerous difficulties amid the pandemic.

The La Cañada Unified School District governing board has hit the ground running in 2021 having already convened for three virtual meetings the past month. The challenges from 2020 carried over into the new year, and recently appointed board president Kaitzer Puglia is ready to tackle them and move the district forward.
“[January] and [February] are really tough,” Puglia said, “but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Vaccinations are coming. We have got to take care of our teachers, staff and administrators. They are working so hard, and we need to take care of them so they can take care of our students.”
Getting students back into classrooms safely is one of several goals for the new board president, but as a professor in education and child development at Pasadena City College, Puglia understands that can happen only when the concerns of those providing instruction are addressed.
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LCUSD Mulls Closing Campus Activities Amid Virus Spike

Outlook Valley Sun file photo
The LCUSD governing board discussed the suspension of on-campus athletic activities at the high school for the remainder of January due to the surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Los Angeles County.

In its first official meeting of the year, the La Canada Unified School District governing board had much to discuss since it last convened on Dec. 15.
In the past month, COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths have spiked throughout Los Angeles County at an alarming rate, and the board deliberated over the possible suspension of the few on-campus activities currently underway, most notably those at La Cañada High School, on Tuesday.
Barbara Ferrer, L.A. County Department of Public Health director, strongly recommended to district leaders in a conference call last week that they shut down schools for the remainder of the month due to the holiday surge.
The Los Angeles Unified School District shut down all of its campuses last month, and other districts have followed its lead, especially after last week’s call with public health officials.
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Capitol Riot Becomes Teaching Moment at LCHS

Jim Cartnal had a Zoom meeting scheduled for 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 6. The La Cañada High School principal looked forward to talking to a group of students supporting the Challenge Success initiative, which promotes a balanced, academically fulfilling life for kids.
His eagerness quickly turned to concern as he was notified by friends and family of what was happening more than 2,600 miles away. A violent mob of supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the United States Capitol to disrupt the counting of electoral votes.
“Should we meet or just go home and focus on our families?” Cartnal thought. He ultimately decided to shorten the meeting and allow the students to be with their families.
He reflected on the alarming riot and sent an email to families the following day, advising parents that they limit their children’s exposure to media and have a conversation with them about the events that transpired.
Cartnal also held a Zoom meeting with teachers and administrators last Thursday and encouraged them to slightly alter their lesson plans and create an open virtual space for students to process and reflect on what happened the previous day.
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District to Reopen Schools for Youngest Students

Nearly eight months after shuttering its campuses to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the La Cañada Unified School District is ready to reopen its doors to young learners after getting the green light from Los Angeles County.
Superintendent Wendy Sinnette notified parents late last week that county officials granted the district waivers that allow students in transitional kindergarten through 2nd grade to return to campus for limited in-person instruction. La Cañada, Palm Crest and Paradise Canyon elementary schools are set to reopen on Tuesday, Nov. 17.
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LCUSD Leader Embraces Goals, Growth

Superintendent Wendy Sinnette

Earlier this week, La Cañada Unified School District Superintendent Wendy Sinnette had a small bounce in her step.
After steering the district through a historic pandemic and confronting barriers to a return to on-campus education, Sinnette applied on Monday for waivers from Los Angeles County to allow in-person instruction for TK-grade 2 at all three district elementary schools. LCUSD likely is one of the first public school districts, if not the first, in the county to apply for the waivers, which will help increase the potential of approval, she noted.
“It really is a huge accomplishment,” said Sinnette, beaming as she lightly waved the paperwork in her hand. “I have to give a shoutout to the California School Employees Association Chapter 122,” which gave a formal letter of support to the district, one of the requirements to file for a waiver.
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