Kevin Cody

Hermosa school district hopes to bring transitional kindergarten through 2nd grade back to campus

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Hermosa Beach Superintendent Jason Johnson inside a classroom laid out to provide six-feet of social distancing among students. One of the two seats at each desk would remain empty. Photo by Philicia Endelman

by Kevin Cody

Pandemic safety procedures transitional kindergarten through second grade students will have to follow when they return to school were presented to parents by school administrators during a Zoom meeting last Thursday.

The procedures assume the district receives a waiver from the County Health Department, allowing Hermosa TK-2 students to return to class. Superintendent Jason Johnson said he expects a response from the County this week.

The safety procedures include staggered drop-off times for different classes, students answering six health questions and having their temperatures taken before entering the campus, wearing a mask and carrying an extra one, social distancing and a limit of two to three students on play equipment. Ball sports must be played solo. Areas outside the classrooms will be set aside for “mask breaks.”

Johnson acknowledged the procedures will be challenging to implement, but said they are “not subjective and not optional. The goal is to limit the spread of COVID-19 while keeping the schools open.”

The procedures are dictated by the Los Angeles County Department of Health.

Johnson said the district applied to the County for a waiver on Nov. 6 and he was confident the waiver would be issued. 

But he said that optimism during last week’s Zoom meeting, before the county-wide surge in COVID-19 cases over the weekend. The surge may result in the Health Department issuing a three-week stay-at-home order.

Johnson said on Monday he did not know if students would be subject to a new stay-at-home-order. If a new stay-at-home order does apply to students, it would probably dash the district’s hopes of students returning to the classroom before the Dec. 19 winter break.

“Since the start of our COVID-19 planning last July, we have been consistent in our goal to reopen. If we’re not able to reopen before the holidays, at least we will have moved our reopening preparations forward,” Johnson said.

A November 10 survey, completed by families representing 228 of the district’s 325 TK-2 families, found that 89 percent preferred a “hybrid” instruction program, with students receiving a combination of on campus and distance learning instruction. The remaining 12 percent (26 families) preferred distance learning only, with no on-campus classes.

Under the hybrid plan presented last Thursday, students will attend two-and-a-half hour morning or afternoon classes every day except Wednesday, and participate in distance learning for another two-and-a-half hours on those same four days.

Approximately 50 special needs students are already receiving on-campus instruction.

Johnson said a COVID-19 dashboard will be placed on the district’s website so parents can track the schools progress against the pandemic.

“I have a four year old daughter and I want her to be able to see her granddad. But I also know kids need socialization and want to be back in school.

“I see both sides and am torn, as is the school board, by every decision we make,” Johnson said. ER


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