Saugus School District board votes to return kids to campus

The Saugus Union School District office. Dan Watson/The Signal

During a special one-hour board meeting Thursday night, the Saugus Union School District’s governing board voted to begin the process of bringing the majority of the district’s students back to their elementary school classrooms for in-person instruction.

The decision comes on the heels of a late-night announcement Monday from county officials declaring that the case rate per capita had dropped low enough for TK to sixth-grade students to return to campus.

With the Saugus district’s decision on Thursday, all public elementary school districts in the Santa Clarita Valley have announced their intent to return in the coming weeks, with each adopting a similar “phased-in” approach. The district has laid out a plan that involves bringing different grades back in at different times.

Students and their families will have the choice to return to campus for in-person learning or remain at home to continue distance learning, county officials have said as one of their guidelines. Earlier this week, SCV parents seemed split on the decision, with some saying that it was still too dangerous for kids to return as early as next week due to few, if any, teachers and staff being vaccinated; while others said their children have been educated about the virus and can conduct themselves in a safe manner.

Specifically for Saugus, district staff recommended that first and second grades return on Monday; TK/K and designated learning institute students return on Feb. 25; third and fourth grades return on March 1; and fifth- and sixth-graders are expected to return March 4.

Those students in the “split/combo” classes, with at least two grades in a single learning environment, will return to campus based on individual school site determination by staff.

After hearing from staff about the when, board members then heard from their administrators on the how. Saugus school officials have said, like the three other elementary school districts, they will be putting into practice their safety-inclined campus program — students will attend on-campus learning four days per week (for 2.5 hours a day) and have one digital-only day on Wednesday.

The district emphasized that they’ve been planning for the return of students for months, and they’re prepared to ensure staff and student safety through the use of personal protective equipment, social distancing, mask wearing and daily symptom checks through Parent Square before coming on campus.

Board President Laura Arrowsmith said Friday she was happy with the board’s decision to allow students to return and glad that the board had carried out its duty to ask questions and seek more clarifying information over the last few months.

“I think everyone that is excited to return to campus can help the stability of keeping campuses open by continuing our really good public health measures of wearing face coverings, keeping your distance from people when you’re out, so we can maintain this low transmission rate,” said Arrowsmith. “Everything that the community can do to maintain the lowest possible community spread is going to help us at school, because school is part of the community.”

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