SCV education officials contemplate 2019-20 school calendar

Allie Certez, 4, sings "Each of Us is a Flower" with her pre-K classmates during the grand opening of the Sensory Garden at Leona Cox Community School on Friday, November 22, 2019. Dan Watson/The Signal

As news broke this week that both state and county officials are recommending schools be closed for the remainder of the year, Santa Clarita Valley school district officials said they’re also looking at what the rest of the 2019-20 school year will look like.

During his news conference Wednesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced school campuses statewide should remain closed for the remainder of the school year. A few hours later, Los Angeles County Superintendent Debra Duardo announced her recommendation that school campuses remain physically closed through the end of the academic year.

A number of SCV school district officials said Wednesday they’ve been in daily communication with the Los Angeles County Office of Education. While SCV districts have distance learning plans in place, they’re still communicating with families as there have been multiple changes to the plan.

“As far as extending school closure is concerned, we are continuing to work with the other SCV districts and the Los Angeles County Office of Education to determine our next steps related to school closures,” said Colleen Hawkins, superintendent for the Saugus Union School District. “We are providing distance learning for all of our students, and we continue refining that process each day.”

Both Hawkins and Castaic Union School District Superintendent Steve Doyle said the districts were waiting to hear recommendations and guidance from LACOE before making any announcements.

Newhall School District Superintendent Jeff Pelzel said the NSD would be holding a special board meeting Thursday night to determine the next steps for the district.

“We will continue to work in collaboration with our neighboring districts,” said Pelzel.

Sulphur Springs Union School District Superintendent Catherine Kawaguchi said Wednesday that she was working with her board of trustees and that they would be making a decision Thursday, also.

William S. Hart Union High School District spokesman Dave Caldwell said the district was communicating regularly with LACOE, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control in order to find out how to best move forward.

“The school buildings may be closed, but the teachers are continuing to teach every day using distance learning. We will continue to do this until the buildings reopen or the school year ends,” said Caldwell.

Caldwell added that, as of Wednesday, the district was not making a statement that it was closing the district campuses for the remainder of the year.

Private schools are dealing with the same dilemma, but would not be operating under the same guidelines as those of their public school counterparts.

“As far as school goes and whether we resumed school and all that, that would not necessarily come from the superintendent of public instruction because we’re a private school,” said Mark Wilson, administrator at Santa Clarita Christian School. “At the same time, we better have a pretty convincing argument for going against that,” he said, referring to the LACOE announcement to close schools.

Liz Caddow, the founder and head of school at Trinity Classical Academy, said the situation remains fluid and that the school has a remote learning end date of April 30.

“Understanding, the public schools have given their recommendations, we are going to watch closely and wait, not making any decision beyond April 30th at this time,” said Caddow in an email to parents.

Wilson said SCCS plans to be closed through May 4, but Wilson has a “pretty healthy skepticism about that.”

“With the way things are right now, new developments are happening every day .. I’m honestly going to leave the date as May 4 for probably about another two weeks before I make an official call.”

Wilson said he would be weighing a number of variables, including the input of government officials and SCCS families.

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