Kevin Cody

Redondo Beach Child Development classes back in session, but no touching, no sharing

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Redondo Beach Unified School District Assistant Director of Maintenance and Operations Laura Franco-Gallardo trains CDC staff members on how to sanitize their classrooms.. Photo courtesy of CDC

by Kevin Cody

An estimated 160 transitional kindergarten through 5th grade Redondo Beach students returned to the classroom on Thursday, June 11, under distancing guidelines designed to deter the spread of the coronavirus. The students attend Child Development Center classes at Redondo’s seven elementary schools.

But before entering their classrooms, students are met where their parents drop them off by CDC staff “health valets,” who take temperatures and question the parents about their children’s health and whether the children have been exposed to anyone with COVID-19. Students are sent home if their  temperatures are above 100.5 degrees, if they exhibit signs of illness or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. 

The health checks are among the Los Angeles County Health Department guidelines that schools must follow to reopen.

CDC classes, which typically have 30 students, are limited to 10 students and one teacher. Students must wear masks and remain six feet apart.

“The saddest part is the distancing, but at least the kids will be allowed to be in classrooms together,” CDC director Theresa Van Dusen said during her reopening presentation to the Redondo School Board two weeks ago.

One consequence of having to keep classes of 10 together is that siblings will be assigned to the same classrooms, even if they are at different grade levels.

Another consequence of the 10-student limit is that parents must pay for the full nine week program, which costs $2,200. In previous summers, parents were only required to pay the $50/day fee for the days their children attended CDC classes. The reason a nine-week enrollment is required is because CDC is not be allowed to accept new students even if class counts fall below the 10 student maximum, Van Dusen explained.

Because enrollment is down this summer by nearly 60 percent from approximately 500 students last summer, some of the program’s 62 full time and part time teachers will be laid off, Van Dusen said.

CDC is a year round program, but was suspended on March 16, along with other Redondo school programs, because of the pandemic. During the school year, the program offers before and after school care for students. This year’s summer program is from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Classes include reading and writing, science, art, physical activities and field trips. But field trips are  virtual and physical activities are limited to activities that don’t involve physical contact or sharing equipment. Kids can shoot baskets, but can’t share basketballs. 

“Our teachers have come up with some creative, non contact sports,” Van Dusen said.

Nor are students allowed to share school supplies or classroom toys, which are sanitized at the end of each day, as are the classrooms. Students’ supplies are kept in individual bags at their desks.

Superintendent Steven Keller told the school board at its last meeting he hopes to learn from CDC’s successes and mistakes in welcoming back the district’s nearly 10,000 students on August 19. ER

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