Superintendent's Weekly Summary - November 22nd

  • Community and Parents

Dear Westside Parents and Community Members,

As we enter the week of Thanksgiving, it is an opportunity to express my gratitude for allowing our staff to work with you and your family.  Though the past 8+ months have been unprecedented and unexpected, I am thankful for our Board, our staff and all our parents for the collective work that has been done to ensure that our students still receive the best possible educational experience.  I am hopeful that you and your family will have an opportunity to spend some quality time together, while taking a break from school. 

COVID-19 Update on School Reopening Plans

We have continued to make plans for some of our students to return to school, however, the surge in COVD-19 cases nationally and particularly in California and Los Angeles County continue to create concern.  At the most recent meeting of the Board of Trustees it was determined that our schools may reopen for small cohorts of students in January following winter break.  Currently, groups being considered to return to face-to-face/hybrid learning are some mild/moderate special needs students TK-6th and TK/K students.  While this will not be a return to what used to be our normal school day, students will be on campus for part of their instructional day and part of their day will be at home.

Our total number of students allowed on campus under this waiver program may not exceed 25% of enrollment. Because only cohorts of 12 students or less can be in a class currently, and since our staff is restricted to teaching only 1 cohort at a time on alternating days or 2 cohorts on a split day, we cannot return to school for the same instructional day we’ve had in the past or that has been in place during distance learning. The County is looking into aligning the number in a cohort to that of the state, so the number may increase to 14 students in a cohort in the coming weeks.  As students return to school, they must be prepared to wear a mask for the entire time they are at school, remain 6 feet distant from others, wash their hands often and regularly, and participate only with students who are in their own cohort. Additionally, they will be monitored daily with safety questions and temperatures checks. Parents will be asked to drop students off at designated times, wait for the students’ temperatures to be taken and for them to be cleared to remain at school. Please be aware that students must be picked up promptly at the end of the school day, and may not be left on campus because a parent is unable to pick them up on time.  If that is going to present a problem to you, please let the school administrator know so that your child may remain in a distance learning program for the rest of the year.

Our recent surveys of parents in the groups stated above indicated that between 30-50% of parents do not want their children to return to a face-to-face/hybrid learning environment.  This will also require principals to reconfigure their classes to create more year long distance learning programs than anticipated for this year.  That may result in a change in assigned teacher in January.

During the upcoming week, we will be applying to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health for another waiver to allow TK-2nd grade students to return to school.  This waiver program is on a school-by-school basis.  So it is possible for one school in the district to be granted a waiver to return while others are not.  This waiver is currently also capped at 25% of our enrollment by school.  At a recent meeting LACDPH has indicated that this waiver may be extended to include students in grades TK-6th in an elementary setting after the first of the year.  

We are continuing to work with our labor partners to resolve working conditions for our staff members to return to work as well.  Many issues have already been resolved, and we are hopeful that all issues can be addressed and resolved during December so that if allowed by LACDPH staff and some students can return to face-to-face/hybrid instruction.

Other Information

Please be looking for our upcoming Westside Wire Video update.  It should be released when we return in from Thanksgiving Break.  

Again, we want to express our appreciation to Lockheed-Martin for the $20,000 grant that has allowed us to purchase additional technology related items to keep our fleet of Chromebooks operational.  We also appreciate the infusion of funds from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to help with the acquisition of more hotspots, Chromebooks and iPads for our students.  These much needed funds have helped in ensuring we can maintain 1:1 devices for students.  

At our first meeting of the Board on December 8th, we will have our annual reorganization process and the swearing in of Trustees Steve Demarzio and Dr. Christopher Grado who will serve new four year terms.  We want to thank Trustee Jennifer Navarro who has served as Board President  for the past 19 months which has included making the shift to online meetings.  Her leadership as President has been greatly appreciated, and we thank all the trustees for their tireless work amidst challenging changes.  The second meeting in December is scheduled for December 15th.  

We continue to look for ways to save on utilities, and will be embarking on projects that will accomplish that over the coming months.  Some of those projects will include additional solar projects over parking areas and some that create shade spaces at some of the schools. Also being considered are relamping projects to conserve our energy consumption.  

Lunches continue to be available at our schools during times when school is in session.  In addition to the lunches served from the school sites, we also have used school buses to transport lunches to be served to students in outlying areas or where we know transportation to the school site is a challenge.  The School Lunch program provides meals free to all children 18 years of age or younger.  We encourage you to pick up a nutritious lunch and breakfast for your children.  Meals are provided from 11 a.m.-noon each school day.  

We have provided a new resource to parents on our website.  It is a calendar of dates that may be of significance provided by the California Department of Education.  You may find some of the dates that you and your children may want to learn more about as you continue home learning programs.   

Again, thanks for all your help, support and understanding as we continue to navigate our learning programs for students during this pandemic.  The combination of you, our teachers, staff and students have made a challenging situation more doable.  Please know how much the efforts everyone, including that of our students, is appreciated.

I hope that you will take time this week to rest, relax, and enjoy some non-school time with your families.  Though Thanksgiving gatherings will look different than in past years, it is still a time for reflection about those people who are dear to us whether we can be together in person or not, and to give thanks for the many things of importance to us.  Please enjoy your time, and we will look forward to students returning to their studies on November 30th.  Thanks again for all you are doing.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Regina L. Rossall
Superintendent
 

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