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School Board to Discuss Timeline on Reopening

Published on Monday, February 22, 2021 | 12:48 pm

[UPDATED] The Pasadena Board of Education will discuss a timeline to reopen schools at its meeting Thursday.

“We are very thankful for this kind gesture from PPHD and Huntington Hospital. With these vaccinations being available for PUSD staff and hopefully the continued decrease in the rate of virus transmission in the community,” said School Board President Scott Phelps. “I am personally hopeful that PUSD can partially re-open during the week of March 22. Per our MOUs with our labor partners, we need to have several days of preparation for re-opening before any re-opening and at our meeting this Thursday, the superintendent will make a recommendation as to a possible date for re-opening. I understand several dates are being considered.”

The school district will conduct a survey to determine how many parents favor in-person learning or staying with distance learning.

After the survey is completed, the district will determine a start date for in-person learning for pre-k to second-grade and third- to fifth-grade students.

Three weeks before the schools reopen, there will be three days of synchronous instruction to prepare classrooms for social distancing requirements.

Two weeks before schools reopen, the district will begin  acclimating back to the classroom while distance learning continues. A series of orientation sessions will be held with students and parents to prepare for in-person instruction one week before schools reopen.

The county’s COVID-19 case rate fell below 25 per every 100,000 residents last week, which allows public schools to begin the reopening process.

The county must reach a case rate of seven cases per every 100,000 residents for high school students to return to in-person learning. 

Some medical experts are now claiming it’s safe for students to return to in-person learning because younger students don’t contribute greatly to the spread of the virus.

But even if the students pose little risk, teachers can become infected and spread the virus. Despite calls to open schools, Gov. Gavin Newsom did not prioritize teachers during the roll out of the  COVID-19 vaccine. 

On March 1 teachers and other essential workers, such as food service workers and law enforcement officials, become eligible for shots. In mid-March, everyone 16 and over with a serious underlying health condition will become eligible.

Health officials have been warning of a difficult month ahead in terms of access to vaccines, with the already jammed appointment system expected to get even more crowded.

School district officials are scheduled to meet with members of United Teachers of Pasadena on Wednesday to continue negotiations on conditions to reopen schools.

The district will reconfigure classrooms to maintain social distance, and install air purifiers, filters and plexiglass in classrooms. Every room in every school will be cleaned and disinfected. A school-based COVID-19 testing and contact tracing program will also be created.

The district will offer COVID-19 vaccines to employees as a service. The vaccine is not required for reopening.

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