NSD, OLPH prepare to reopen school campuses

Kindergarten teacher Sarah Luckenback welcomes her students online on the first day of school at Emblem Academy in Saugus on Wednesday, August 12, 20. Dan Watson/The Signal

The Newhall School District and Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic School have been approved to reopen campus for some in-person instruction after seeking approval from the county.

All 10 schools in the Newhall School District and the OLPH Catholic School will reopen for TK-2 students after submitting all necessary paperwork required by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health this week.

“Because of Thanksgiving coming up and we want the staff and students to enjoy winter break, plus (COVID-19) cases are rising, we’re planning to start in-person instruction on Jan. 11,” said NSD Superintendent Jeff Pelzel.

NSD submitted waivers for each school site in early October, and they were approved Tuesday. The district plans to have a “AM/PM hybrid-model,” where students return to campus for two and a half hours Monday through Thursday, with Friday being an online-only day.

Parents had the opportunity to sign up for digital learning academies through the district, which would keep their children in online schooling programs through the 2020-21 school year, but can transition to in-person instruction if they choose to.

Letters of support were obtained by both NSD and OLPH Catholic School and signed by numerous staff members, parents and parent-teacher organizations.

Face coverings will be required at all NSD school sites and OLPH Catholic School, and must be worn by all students and staff, along with frequent hand washing and social distancing. 

OLPH Catholic School submitted the waiver Oct. 23, and was approved for reopening Tuesday.

“We’re excited to have the students back in a safe manner,” said Sharon Krahl, principal of OLPH Catholic School. “We want to make sure when they come back, everything is perfect in this world that’s not perfect.”

Nearly 100 students are expected to return to school for full-time attendance, according to the application approved by Public Health. School staff members are still discussing when the best time to bring students back to campus would be, according to Krahl, and parents will be notified when a decision is made.

As part of the requirement, OLPH Catholic School outlined the safety protocols the school would be taking to protect students and staff from contracting the virus, which include a biweekly COVID-19 test administered to staff and an establishment of a COVID-19 taskforce that will be responsible for educating student, families and staff about the virus.

Newhall School District officials recently reported an outbreak associated with the district’s office, which caused the office’s closure. However, district officials cited privacy laws in saying they could not divulge any other information about the outbreak.

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