Hart district postpones return to campus until February

The William S. Hart Union High School District office
The William S. Hart Union High School District office

The William S. Hart Union High School District governing board voted 4-1 to suspend small cohorts returning to campus through Feb. 8.

James Webb was the single dissenting vote against the Feb. 8 return date, stating he didn’t think the school district would be able to provide students and teachers with the safest environment by that date. 

The board also voted 3-2 to postpone the discussion on having athletic conditioning return to campuses, as well as unanimously voting to cancel administration of a Jan. 26 practice SAT.    

The decisions, as recommended by Superintendent Mike Kuhlman, are in line with the Targeted Safer at Home Health Officer Order. The board also agreed to continue the discussion about these decisions and leave the door open to other possibilities at successive board meetings. 

The decisions at the meeting come after L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer issued a series of recommendations, but not health orders, advising school districts to keep people off campuses, while continuing to emphasize distance learning. 

During the meeting 42 emails were sent in to the board meeting, a large portion of which were devoted to asking the board to return students to campuses for athletic conditioning and cohort education.

A number of the parents cited not only their concerns for their students’ physical health, but also their child’s mental health, saying that sports and being alongside their teammates or cohort groups helps them deal with the pandemic. 

However, the last 29 emails were all from classified staff that asked the board to keep cohorts closed and allow their site staff to remain working at home, should they choose.

According to a L.A. County Office of Education survey, of the district’s surveyed throughout the county, 62.75% of districts have taken action to suspend all in-person instruction, activities and services, excluding food distribution for the month of January. A total of 17.65% answered the same question by saying they were considering this type of action and 19.61% said they were not. 

“This has gone on for so long that words of optimism sometimes seem like empty promises, but the truth is that every month that goes by it is going to get better, and we’re going to be closer to the point where we’re able to say that we’re back to some sense of normalcy,” said Kuhlman.

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