Superintendent's Letter - July 27, 2021

  • Community and Parents

Dear Westside Parents and Community Members, 

We are so excited and looking forward to welcoming our students back to school on August 4th.  Be looking for specific information such as start time, teacher assignments, lunch and breakfast schedules, and opening activities from the principal of your child’s school this week.   

During the past few months, several changes were made and others reinforced by legislation and regulation in our state.  So, here are some answers to frequently requested information: 

School Meals

Lunch at all schools and breakfast at the schools that have a breakfast program will be available to all students free of charge every day this school year.  We will continue to use a grab and go service in the cafeteria.    

School Hours 

Schools will be open similar hours to pre-pandemic.  There may be some minor changes to those hours, so please check with your local school for exact times. 

Transportation 

If you reside in an area where bus service is provided for your child, social distancing on the bus will continue to be required, which may impact pick up and drop off schedules.  Bus stops and pick up locations can be obtained from the office at your school site or Antelope Valley School Transportation Agency. 

Distance Learning 

If you prefer that your child remain in a distance learning program, that is available through Independent Study.  The TK-6th grade program will be housed at the Leona Valley School Campus, and the 7th/8th grade program will be housed at the Westside Academy program located on the Joe Walker Middle School Campus.  If you are interested in this program, please submit communication via Let’s Talk in the Distance Learning Enrollment 21.22 interest area or click here: Let's Talk

Transitional Kindergarten 

During this past legislative session, the dates for admission to transitional kindergarten were changed.  Those changes will be phased in based on state law beginning in the 22-23 school year, and the change will be completed in the 25-26 school year.  When completed, all students turning 5 between September 1 and August 31 will be allowed to attend transitional kindergarten.  In the 22-23 school year, the birth date deadline will be February 2nd, 23-24 school year the deadline will be April 2nd, 24-25 school year the deadline will be June 2nd, and 25-26 school year will be all others.   

COVID-19 Testing 

Testing for COVID-19 will be available on our sites for students and staff this school year.  The test will be of saliva, not the nasal swab.  This is elective and requires written parent permission for a test to be administered.  This is one more measure we are offering to keep those on our sites safer from this virus.  Again, once school starts, you will receive information about testing at the school your children attend. 

Vaccinations 

The City of Lancaster has asked that we encourage parents of children who are 12 years or older to consider vaccinations in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and has provided incentives to children who get vaccines.  Information about this incentive program will be available at Joe Walker Middle School and Del Sur School as both sites are within or very near the City boundary, and serve students who are 12 years of age or older.  This is a continuing part of the outreach efforts from the City of Lancaster.  Similar programs are also available for high school students.   

Masks 

Masks are required for everyone indoors on our sites, and this remains a directive from the California Department of Public Health.  This mandate includes students, staff, volunteers, and visitors.  We do understand that mask wearing may be difficult for some students for health reasons.  If you have any questions about mask wearing for your child, please contact the school principal, to discuss your concerns.  It is our desire to both keep our campus safe from the spread of the virus, while maximizing in-person instruction for our students.  This is an area where we want to work together to find ways to accomplish both goals.    

Masks are not required when staff or students are outdoors or are eating.   

School Activities 

We anticipate providing school activities such as sports, drama, band, robotics, and others that were available to students prior to the pandemic.  These activities will probably begin for our middle school students during the fall semester, and as appropriate for our elementary school students. 

Volunteers 

Please make arrangements to get your volunteer badge issued.  Picture day is scheduled for August 13, from 7:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. at the Gregg Anderson Academy Community Room at 5151 W. Ave. N-8, Palmdale.  All volunteers will be required to wear masks while indoors at the school sites. 

Meetings of the Board 

Board meetings will continue to be broadcast over YouTube on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of the month.  Closed Session begins shortly after the call to order at 5:00 p.m., and the regular public session begins at 6:00 p.m.  The agenda is posted on the website the Friday before the meeting.  

School Dress 

If your child attends a school that requires a specific uniform, please be sure to check for any minor changes for the coming year.  Anaverde Hills, The IDEA Academy @ Cottonwood, and Gregg Anderson require a specific dress code.   

Counseling Services 

Each of our school sites has access to a school counselor or school psychologist to support students.  If we can help your child return to school with support, please contact the site staff and request an appointment or a return phone call.  Our wish is for all of our students to successfully adjust to being back at school, interacting with their peers again, and feeling comfortable while on campus.   

Attendance 

Research continues to demonstrate that one of the most important elements of school success is regular school attendance.  Students who are present regularly are usually up to date on their assignments, have the benefit of participating in lessons firsthand, and are present for teacher support at the time of the lesson.  When students are absent they miss out on the lesson, sometimes they also miss the work that supported the lesson, and when they return to school they have work to make up plus the current lesson in which to be engaged.   

Since this attendance is so important for school success, support staff will be working with our families to help improve attendance.  We want your children to be successful learners so if you need support in getting your child to school daily, please reach out to one of the staff members. The attendance support personnel will be located on each middle school and K-8 campus, but will support the middle school and feeder schools for the area.   

After School Care 

Most of our K-6 and K-8 schools have after school care for students.  If this is a need for your family, please contact the school staff for specific information about the programs available.  Vendors who provide care at various sites include Innovation Education, Antelope Valley Boys & Girls Club, City of Lancaster, and the Antelope Valley YMCA.   

Thank you for your continued support of our students and staff.  As I mentioned earlier, we are looking forward to having our students back on campus, present for the entire school day and engaged in learning.  Please feel free to contact your child’s school for any questions you may have about our return to school on August 4th.  Please note that August 4th and 5th are minimum days, and school will be dismissed one hour earlier than the regular school day. 

Enjoy the rest of your summer break, and we look forward to making the 21-22 school year a success for all. 

Sincerely,
Regina L. Rossall
Superintendent 

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