Kevin Cody

Peninsula, Hermosa Beach, LA superintendents assail governor’s school reopening plan, masks would cost millions of dollars daily

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Palos Verdes Peninsula Superintendent Allen Cherness spearheaded letter criticizing regulations on reopening schools. Peninsula magazine file photo

by Kevin Cody

State and Los Angeles County “proposed regulations” for reopening schools in the fall have been assailed as “unattainable and unrealistic” in a letter signed by 11 Los Angeles area school superintendents. The letter is addressed to Governor Gavin Newsom, Los Angeles County Superintendent  Dr. Debra Duardo and County Health Director Dr Debra Ferrer. It is dated May 21.

The letter was “spearheaded” by Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Alex Cherniss, according to a Facebook post by Palos Verdes School Board member Suzanne Seymour. 

The proposed regulation that adults and students must wear face coverings is described as “fiscally daunting.” “With over 1 million students in LA County, we would be spending millions of dollars per day for face coverings at a time when we will be facing likely budget cuts,” the letter states

The letter also notes, “The thought of students being able to keep a covered face for the entire day is something that would be difficult for an adult to do…. Additionally, school requires

teachers and students to be able to converse with each other, which could also be

inhibited by face coverings.” 

Hermosa Beach schools superintendent Pat Escalante was among the signees to a letter criticizing school reopening plans

The superintendents were equally dismissive of the proposed “14-day quarantine for the entire class of students upon one positive case.”

“The application of this policy has not been well thought out. What about at the secondary level, where students go class to class? Under this policy, we may need to quarantine hundreds of students at the secondary level every time we have one case.”

The proposed regulation that “students and adults must be 6 fee apart” is “first and foremost, impractical,” the superintendents wrote.

“There is not enough space in our schools to spread out students to meet the average 8 to 12 bodies in a classroom…. Primary grade students (Preschool — 3rd grade) tend to move around a lot and would not be able to adhere to this requirement,” the letter states.

The three page letter ends with the warning, “We fear that if these guidelines are not more measured and reasonable, our schools will never reopen until everyone is vaccinated; this would negatively impact so many aspects of our society, most importantly our youth.” 

In a separate letter to parents of the Peninsula district’s nearly 10,000 students, Superintendent Cherniss further chastised Governor Newsom for proposing a 10 percent reduction in school funding.

The results, the superintendent wrote, would be a $10 million reduction in state funds for Peninsula district schools and an $8 million deficit next year. The district’s projected general fund income in its 2019-2020 budget was $139 million.

“For the governor and his administration to expect school districts to continue to do more and prepare for more, with 10 percent less money, is unrealistic and impractical,” the superintendent wrote to parents. “I urge you to contact our local legislators and tell them that this budget proposal is unacceptable.” 

The superintendent began his letter to parents on a positive note, by announcing that the district is reopening outdoor school facilities for recreational activity, though not for team sports. Nor is it ready to reopen its indoor sports facilities.

The superintendent’s letter to parents also ended on a positive note.

“We received over 400 letters of interest from parents and medical professionals interested in joining our steering committees to discuss reopening of our schools. 

He said the district will have five steering committees of 25 members each: 1. PVPUSD staff, 2. Medical professionals, 3. Elementary parents, 4. Middle School parents and 5. High School parents .” 

In addition to Peninsula’sCherniss, the letter to the state and county was signed by school superintendents from Beverly Hills, Hacienda La Puente, Norwalk-LaMirada, Claremont, Hermosa Beach, Temple City, West Covina, Centinela Valley, Hughes-Elizabeth Lakes and Glendora.

Redondo Beach and Manhattan Beach superintendents were not signees to the letter to the State and County. Pen

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