District plans for reopening

In an email to parents last week, Deputy Superintendent of Educational Services Matt Witmer announced the possible reopening of elementary schools.

“We are working on the timing and possibility of a Spring 2021 reopening with in-person instruction for elementary schools,” Witmer said in the email.

If this does occur, students and parents will have the option to continue with distance learning. There remain multiple steps before reopening, all of which the district is currently exploring.

“To best prepare, we will be pulling together small groups of teachers and employees to discuss best practices and models for a possible reopening,” Superintendent Robert Taylor said in an email.

Given that the school year will end on May 27, the district is analyzing the feasibility of reopening. WVUSD is also working to ensure that educators have access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

“While… there is currently no mandate for educators to receive the vaccine, we do agree that it should at least be made available to all of our employees,” Taylor said.

As most teachers are in vaccination Phase 1B, which may open as soon as March 1, mid-April would be the earliest date for reopening. California’s color-tiered system provides guidelines for schools to reopen by ranking counties from minimal risk (yellow) to widespread risk (purple). With roughly 20 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people daily, LA County is currently labeled as a purple county.

“While we still remain in the Purple Tier, the state has shifted to a less restrictive system that requires a county to drop below 25 COVID cases per 100,000 residents for elementary schools to reopen,” Witmer said.

Previously, counties would need to be classified at or below Substantial Risk (red) with less than seven new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people daily. Meanwhile, WVUSD-run summer programs will move forward with in-person instruction, although accommodations will be made for students with health conditions.