Santa Clarita Valley public junior high and high school students will remain in the blended learning model — two days a week of in-person instruction — for the remainder of the year, William S. Hart Union High School District officials announced Wednesday night.
While providing the meeting’s regular “Return to School Update,” Superintendent Mike Kuhlman said that because of transportation issues, along with the limited time before finals week and graduations, the final days of the 2020-21 school year will be spent under the current blended learning format.
“A big piece of the decision-making here has to do with the complexities of providing transportation to the many students who rely upon district and city services,” said Kuhlman. “Distancing requirements still limit the capacity of buses, which means more buses, which means added routes, which means additional personnel.”
“At some point, we had to look at a law of diminishing returns as we are approaching the conclusion of this school year,” Kuhlman added.
Although Los Angeles County moved into the less restrictive “yellow tier” on Tuesday, Kuhlman said, the move does not significantly change the strict state and county public health guidelines for schools and classrooms. Students, staff and families should therefore expect to conclude the remainder of the year in the current two-day model, Kuhlman said.
“I’d like to be clear that we believe the fall semester will be a different story, barring any significant changes in the trajectory of this pandemic,” said Kuhlman. “We are hopeful that we can offer five full days of in-person instruction when we return in August.”
The Hart district governing board approved a plan Wednesday to temporarily lower the total number of credits local seniors will need to graduate.
Approved unanimously by the governing board, the resolution reports that under normal circumstances, students are required to earn a total of 230 credits, 72.5 of which come from elective courses.
District staff informed the board, however, that due to COVID-19 and distance learning, the staff’s ability to employ many of the personalized strategies necessary to help students stay on track for graduation was heavily impeded.
It was recommended by district staff, and subsequently approved by the board, that the number of required elective credits be lowered to 62.5, thereby lowering the overall number of required credits to 220.
“This was the unanimous agreement of all high school principals in a detailed conversation that involved an analysis of high school seniors and areas that they needed additional support,” said Kuhlman. “The California Education Code requires a minimum of 130 credits for students to graduate. The Hart district has adopted a policy setting graduation requirements well beyond the state’s requirements.”
The policy modification is set to encompass the entire 2021 graduating class, including this year’s summer graduates, but will not apply to the class of 2022, or any future graduating classes, unless extended by the board, officials said.