The governing board for the William S. Hart Union High School District approved the implementation of temporary restrictions to the in-person instruction of small cohorts of students due to the current COVID-19 surge in Los Angeles County.
During a special meeting Wednesday evening, the Hart District’s Governing Board met to “consider the question of whether additional temporary restrictions to in-person instruction are called for.”
“On January seventh, the Office of Education called 80 Superintendents of L.A. County,” said Hart District Superintendent Mike Kuhlman. “We were addressed by Dr. Robert Gilchick, he went through all the data about how dire the situation in L.A. County is with COVID hospitalizations and deaths… There was a recommendation to reduce the number of people on our campuses.”
Since December, Los Angeles County’s ICU availability has been bottomed out at zero percent according to the L.A. County Department of Public Health (LADPH).
“One staff member has passed away associated to COVID,” Kuhlman added.
In light of the spread of COVID-19 in Los Angeles County, the school board staff recommended that small, on-campus cohorts, school-sanctioned athletics conditioning, and the PSAT test be evaluated.
Proposed by board member Linda Storli, the on-campus cohorts are to temporarily cease, until Feb. 8. This decision was passed with a 4-1 vote.
The athletics conditioning is to be reevaluated at each of the upcoming board meetings, with the athletics coaches to be surveyed anonymously about their comfort level. This decision was passed with a 3-2 vote.
The PSAT test, originally scheduled for January 26, was also canceled by a unanimous vote.
The special meeting came less than a week after Kuhlman, sent out an email to families within the district outlining what the start of the spring semester will look like.
“As you are all aware, we are in the midst of a surge in COVID transmissions throughout the Southern California community,” Kuhlman wrote in an email Friday. “We’ve been monitoring this situation closely over the holiday break to ensure that we adhere closely to the requirements of State and County health orders.”
At the time, Kuhlman said that district officials would provide support to small cohorts of students throughout the district at the start of the spring semester, which began Monday.
“It’s worth noting that this course of action is consistent with the plans for our four feeder Districts who are all scheduled to continue in-person with their neediest students,” Kuhlman wrote.
The superintendent also announced that district officials have decided to temporarily halt all in-person athletic conditioning as recommended by Dr. Barbara Ferrer and Dr. Gilchick of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
“I understand the pressure our public health officials are under in their efforts to keep people safe,” Kuhlman said. “Having said that, I would have preferred if this recommendation could have been shared with us earlier than the last day of winter break.”
District officials came to this decision following a teleconference with Gilchick the day before the email was sent, which Kuhlman and over 80 other superintendents across the county participated in.
“Dr. Gilchick shared that they are recommending that districts take action to limit in-person activity on campus to those students who need specialized support,” Kuhlman wrote. “Examples would include Special Education students, homeless/foster students and English Learners.”
With reported cases of COVID-19 increasing across the county, Hart District officials have allowed “increased flexibility” for their staff to work from home when possible.
“This accommodation was not made because we believe it is inherently unsafe to step foot onto our sites, but rather as an added measure to increase social distancing and to reduce the total number of people personally interacting on a daily basis,” Kuhlman wrote.
Kuhlman concluded his email Friday by asking families to continue wearing facial coverings, maintaining social distancing, and washing their hands frequently.
“Doing so will help us dampen this surge and hasten our ability to return to school safely with students in classrooms,” Kuhlman wrote.
Ed. Note: David Melnarik contributed to this report.Do you have a news tip? Call us at (661) 298-1220, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t miss a thing. Get breaking KHTS Santa Clarita News Alerts delivered right to your inbox. Report a typo or error, email Corrections@hometownstation.com
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