Back-to-school night moves online for Hart District schools

Kian Hernandez, front, approaches the gate of Bridgeport Elementarty after waiting in line with other students getting ready to check in for the first day of the new school year Tuesday morning. August 10, 2021. Bobby Block / The Signal.
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The William S. Hart Union High School District announced Friday evening that back-to-school nights at all of its schools will be held in a virtual format instead of on high school campuses as originally planned. 

District Superintendent Mike Kuhlman, in an email sent to families Friday night, said the district made the decision “given the trajectory of the Delta variant” and as part of “the necessary steps to preserve the ability for students to continue meeting safely with teachers.” 

“We’ve made the decision to return to a virtual format for this year’s Back to School Night,” he wrote. “By doing so, we eliminate non-essential group gatherings across the district that could potentially contribute to the spread of the virus.” 

Kuhlman told families that this year’s back-to-school night – scheduled to debut Sep. 9 – will follow the same format as last year’s. 

“Teachers from across the district will be preparing personalized messages for parents,” he wrote, noting back-to-school activities will stay accessible to parents after Sep. 9. 

Christine Hammersley, of Valencia, found out about the shift to a virtual back-to-school night before the district’s announcement while reviewing the online events calendar for Valencia High School, where her daughter is a sophomore. 

She said she found the district’s decision “really disappointing.” 

“I’m sending my kid off every day to a place I’ve never even seen or had a tour of or met the counselors or the principal or the teachers,” she told The Signal. “I mean it’s kind of crazy.” 

Hammersley said she’s communicated with her daughter’s counselor via Zoom, but that the experience is not the same as in-person meetings. 

“She’s going to be halfway through her high school career and I will have never met her counselor or her teacher or set foot on the campus,” she said, noting the school should reschedule back-to-school night to a time when parents can meet with educators on campus. 

Canyon High School also announced Friday that it cancelled its football season opener “out of an abundance of caution,” while the school waited for COVID-19 test results from close contacts of a student-athlete who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week. 

Last week, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported 10 students and one staff member with the Castaic High School cheer team and 13 students with the West Ranch High School cheer team have had confirmed cases of COVID-19. 

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