William S. Hart Union High School District governing board members Wednesday discussed a potential March 29 start date for junior high and high school in-person instruction, provided the number of L.A. County COVID-19 cases continues to decline.
Superintendent Mike Kuhlman, during the virtual governing board meeting Wednesday night, introduced a reopening plan to the board that would allow for in-person instruction on the first Monday following the date the district becomes eligible to reopen.
However, the board said no action would be taken on the item during Wednesday night’s board meeting, and a March 29 start date would not be set in stone by a board vote during that meeting. Board President Cherise Moore said while it was an informational session only, Kuhlman had already been given the authority last year to use emergency powers to unilaterally reopen schools “when the time was right.”
In order for grades seven to 12 to return to campuses, according to state and county public health guidelines, L.A. County’s COVID-19 adjusted case rate needs to drop below seven per 100,000 population. As of Tuesday, the county’s adjusted case rate was 7.2 per 100,000.
Kuhlman suggested in his reopening plan the board continues with the status quo in terms of following the longtime plan to select a return date tied to the academic calendar. The third quarter for the district ends on March 19 and March 22 would be the beginning of the fourth quarter.
However, Public Health officials release the adjusted case rate data on Tuesdays. With the hope this week’s rate of 7.2 per 100,000 will drop below the seven-per-100,000 threshold by March 9, county Public Health guidelines state the district will still need to wait another two weeks to reopen, and the county must maintain that case rate to reopen.
Kuhlman suggested a start date no earlier than March 22, and since March 23 would be the second day of the Monday-Tuesday cohort’s in-person instruction (with the other half of the Hart district blended learning model meeting on Thursday-Friday), March 29 becomes the target date of return for junior high and high school students.
“(March 29) has the added advantage of allowing the previous week for staff to recover from any adverse reactions to the second dose of the vaccine,” said Kuhlman. “Our second dose vaccine clinic (for staff) is set for the week of March 22-27.”