October 19, 2020
Dear Granada Hills Charter Community,
First and most importantly, I hope you, your families, and others important to you are staying safe and healthy. I also want to extend the profound thanks of our teachers and staff for your commitment to your children’s education. Each and every day, parents and other family members are going to incredible lengths to ensure that GHC students are prepared to learn in these unprecedented circumstances. And although not ideal and at times frustrating, our remote learning procedures are working well, due in large part to the collaborative effort of all members of our community.
Although we all are eager to get back into the classroom, having a plan for reopening our campus that ensures the safety of our students, teachers and staff while continuing to provide a challenging and engaging education is our highest priority. We are in regular contact with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, the Los Angeles Unified School District, and other charter operators to gather critical information from them as well as share what we have learned since March. Information about testing students and staff, isolation or quarantine policies and safety protocols are just some of the planning and operational details we are collecting and customizing for GHC.
LEARNING MODEL OPTIONS
I am proud of the unique learning environment we have fostered at GHC. We are among the country’s most diverse campuses, offering one of the most complete range of classes and options for individualized learning. We also are one of the nation’s largest schools, which alone poses significant challenges. For instance, one option for moving toward a full reopening is a hybrid learning model that includes bringing groups of students, up to 50 percent a day, onto campus while also continuing distance learning. However, per the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, schools in Los Angeles County are not able to proceed at this time with the hybrid model.
Another option, under protocols established by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, allows for small cohorts of students, up to ten (10) percent of our students to be on campus at a time. In both cases, GHC’s sheer size is a complicating factor – ten (10) percent of our students and roughly ten (10) percent of staff to work with them would total 600 people, a number that will require careful social distancing protocols even on our large campuses.
I can assure you that the safety of our students, teachers and staff will be the driving factor of any plan. Although we absolutely believe that having students back in the classroom is best for their learning and social development, we will not risk anyone’s health to do so.
LOS ANGELES COUNTY PUBLIC HEALTH STATUS
Our progress toward reopening remains contingent on how well the spread of the coronavirus is contained across Los Angeles County. As you likely know, our county remains in the state’s highest risk level category, Tier I or Purple, meaning the coronavirus remains widespread and many non-essential indoor business operations are still closed. The good news is that the county’s positivity and hospitalization rates have declined significantly since early August. Although these rates have largely leveled off in recent weeks, the number of cases per 100,000 residents remains above the threshold that will move us to Tier 2 or Red, a less restrictive status with fewer indoor business operations closed. Given the county’s current public health status and where we find ourselves in the Fall semester, we do not anticipate reopening our campus in the Fall semester for in-person learning. Information about the Spring semester will be provided closer to the Thanksgiving holiday break.
While waiting for the Los Angeles County risk level to decline, we continue to plan. As we do, you will be hearing more from us, including further details guiding the health and safety protocols we will institute. We want you to be able to make decisions about your children’s education and their health that are fully informed. We are committed to giving you the information you will need and want.
ONE-TO-ONE ASSESSMENTS and SUPPORTS FOR SPECIAL POPULATIONS
Recently schools were informed that they may apply to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to support on-site small cohorts or conduct one-to-one (1:1) assessments and supports for special student populations, including special education, English learner, foster, and homeless youth. Additionally, County Public Health also announced that certain schools can apply to serve grades TK-2 students in a hybrid learning model.
Although at this time we are not pursuing a waiver to serve grades TK-2 students on site, we are proceeding with the option to assess and support 1:1 our special populations. Last week, representatives from Los Angeles County Department of Public Health visited both the Zelzah and Devonshire sites to review and affirm the safety protocols in place to support these 1:1 services. Although some students will be on campus first for 1:1 assessments and then later for other supports, the on-line distance learning model for grades TK-12 students will continue as we regularly monitor Los Angeles County public health conditions and take the necessary steps to keep staff and students safe.
GHC WEBSITE and SOCIAL MEDIA
In the meantime, I encourage you to check the GHC website regularly and follow our GHC social media for other updates about our distance learning procedures and other COVID-19 protocols as well as more traditional school news. For instance, on Saturday, October 24, we are hosting a virtual eighth (8) grade Open House for interested incoming ninth (9) graders. In addition, GHC student, Natalie Lawson, has led fellow Highlanders in building and delivering 2,500 face shields to hospital workers across the Valley, and three of our students recently received Senate Certificates of Recognition for their volunteer efforts in community aid and service – proof that while we are experiencing extraordinary times our students remain even more extraordinary.
Thank you again for your dedication to the Granada Hills Charter Community. Stay safe, healthy and strong.
Brian Bauer, Executive Director