Officials with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, including Dr. Barbara Ferrer, met with the superintendents of Santa Clarita’s five school districts over Zoom to discuss what reopening schools looks like during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Monday, the superintendents from all five of the Santa Clarita Valley’s public school districts held a Zoom meeting with several prominent officials from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to discuss what safely reopening schools will look like for the upcoming school year.
From the Santa Clarita Valley, those in attendance included:
- Mike Kuhlman, Superintendent for the William S. Hart Union High School District
- Steve Doyle, Superintendent for the Castaic Union School District
- Dr. Catherine Kawaguchi, Superintendent for the Sulphur Springs School District
- Dr. Colleen Hawkins, Superintendent for the Saugus Union School District
- Jeff Pelzel, Superintendent for the Newhall School District
Meanwhile, officials from the County Department of Public Health included:
- Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Director for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health
- Dr. Sharon Balter, Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s Acute Communicable Disease Control Program
- Dr. Andrea Kim, from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s ACP Education Team
- Dr. Robert Gilchick, Child & Adolescent Health Section Chief of the Los Angeles County’s Division of Maternal, Child & Adolescent Health
“I know you are an incredibly busy person,” Kuhlman told Ferrer at the beginning of the meeting. “You carry an incredibly heavy load, and it just means a lot that you and your team are willing to come and spend some time with us this evening and help answer our questions.”
Dave Caldwell, who serves as the public information officer for the Hart School District, moderated the discussion with a series of questions that officials had gathered from teachers and staff from all of the public school districts within the Santa Clarita Valley.
The meeting came hours after California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that gyms, salons and places of worship were to cease all indoor operations within 30 counties in the state, including Los Angeles County.
The first question posed to Ferrer was how schools could be opened to allow teachers, students and staff in when other parts of the county are being asked to close down once again.
“As soon as you leave your house in the morning during a pandemic, and you’re going to be in contact with people that aren’t in your household, and particularly where you’re going to be close to them, in a work environment or school, you are creating additional risk,” Ferrer said.
Ferrer noted that approximately 10,000 children under the age of 18 have been diagnosed with COVID-19 within Los Angeles County as of Monday evening, and the number of daily cases continues to grow in the county.
“It doesn’t necessarily mean that three weeks from now that we won’t start seeing a decline in the number of new cases,” Ferrer said. “But right now, and I think the governor made a good decision (…) this would not be a good time to have those nonessential activities continue indoors.”
Other topics discussed during the meeting were the use of face masks in schools, reporting procedures for positive cases of COVID-19 on campuses, and reopening protocols that the County Department of Public Health had released earlier in the day.
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