La Cañada Unified School District

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Coronavirus Updates from Superintendent Sinnette

April 10th, 2020
Dear Spartan Students and Families,
 
Thank you for your continued engagement, support, and flexibility as we move forward in implementing emergency distance learning. By now, students and families should be aware of those assignments from our initial three weeks of distance learning that are now required and will be graded on and after April 14 (these assignments would have been communicated to students directly from their teachers). It is important for students and families to know that on April 14 and for the duration of school closure, we return to compulsory education and daily student attendance. Since school sites remain closed, attendance during distance learning will be measured by student assignment completion and checking in with teachers like students regularly would if school was still open.
 
In our attempt to promote a continuity of learning, position students to learn essential concepts and further develop the skills necessary for them to make academic progress, and promote social-emotional wellness by continuing with the routines of school, LCUSD administration puts forward the following guides and expectations for the remainder of distance learning. Please know that further refinement of school policies and procedures will be developed and communicated in response to changes brought forth by LCUSD’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The expectations and guidelines for the remainder of distance learning are:
 
1. Students should log into Google classroom daily, check teacher websites, and check their LCUSD email account to inform themselves of the assignments for the day. Students should complete these assignments and assessments to the best of their abilities, submitting them by following teacher direction and asking teachers for support when questions arise.
 
2. Teachers will authentically assess and evaluate student work and grades will be input into Aeries. These grades will build upon quarter 3 grades and will be viewable in the Aeries student and parent portals.
 
3. Student attendance in each class will be measured by student assignment and assessment completion.

4. Teachers will submit lists of students to LCHS administration who are chronically absent. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, a student is chronically absent when they miss more than 30% of school, as specified in item #3 above.

5. LCUSD administration and their designees, including support staff, counselors, and Wellness Center staff, will contact chronically absent students in order to conduct wellness checks. If the wellness check reveals home life circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic that prevent school participation, a support plan will be put in place that is appropriate to the nature of the student's situation.

6. LCUSD staff recognizes that students and families are facing unique circumstances brought about by the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic, safer at home directives, and school facility closures, and these home-life circumstances may make school performance and achievement at previous levels difficult.

a. To this end, LCUSD will adopt a hold harmless policy for students with respect to academic year 2019-2020 semester 2 grade reporting.

b. The hold harmless policy is defined as one where a student’s final semester 2 grade will not fall lower than the closing grade of March 12, 2020, the date of school facility closure, if the student is regularly and routinely completing school assignments and assessments and is not chronically absent.

c. The hold harmless policy further provides all students opportunities to improve quarter 3 grades.

d. For students who at the end of quarter 3 were earning a failing grade, consistent and effective participation in distance learning will result in a passing grade in the course. This grade will be reported as a D or higher, based upon student work and teacher evaluation. Students who at the end of quarter 3 were earning a failing grade and who are chronically absent and do not participate in distance learning at the required level, may receive a failing grade at the end of the term.

e. For the period of school closure, which in LCUSD is currently through May 5, 2020, per the March 31 vote by the Governing Board, LCUSD continues to plan to issue letter grades for the end of the term grade reporting. If school facilities remain closed, the final grading format for end of the term grade reporting may change. Any changes will be clearly communicated.

7. Students’ work and continued engagement in learning and completion of assignments and assessments play a critical role in determining next course placement, and recommendations for participation in honors, advanced, and Advanced Placement coursework. Sustained effort in distance learning will also positively contribute to the end of the semester citizenship marks, which play an important role in students retaining eligibility status for Spartan athletics and other co-curricular and extra-curricular activities.
 
Distance learning done away from LCHS is a new reality for students, staff, and parents. Now more than ever it is critical that all members of the LCUSD family band together to ensure student success. Where students and families experience challenges with distance learning, we ask for communication and partnership so that we may resolve the myriad of challenges that students, staff, and parents face in these unprecedented times. If you have a family situation which requires special considerations, please reach out to your student’s teachers and the school principal to share information, ask questions, or to request additional support. Where technology challenges arise, please reach out to help@lcusd.net.
 
The health and safety of our students, staff, and families remains our highest priority and we continue to vouchsafe that as our ultimate goal while our distance learning model ensures our students’ successful completion of their courses of study.
 
Sincerely and with gratitude,
 
Wendy Sinnette           James Cartnal           Jarrett Gold, Ed. D.
Superintendent        LCHS 9-12 Principal      LCHS 7/8 Principal
_______________________________________
April 01, 2020
Dear LCUSD Community,
 
I hope this email finds you well, healthy in body and attitude, and managing through the Safer at Home response to the COVID-19 crisis. I wanted to provide you with a recap of essential information from last night’s LCUSD Governing Board meeting. There were two items that will be of general importance to our parents, students, teachers, and staff. One was the Governing Board’s vote to extend the district-wide school facility closure and the other was a presentation on the District’s Response to COVID-19 since March 13, 2020.
 
LCUSD School Facility Closures:
 
Prior to last evening’s meeting, the Governing Board had set the district-wide school facility closures date through April 19, 2020. At this meeting, the Board voted to approve my recommendation to extend the school facility closure date until May 5, 2020.
 
On a related note, there is much in the news on the topic of school closures today. Both California’s Governor Newsom and Los Angeles County Office of Education Superintendent Dr. Debra Duardo have released public statements recommending that districts extend their school closures through the end of the 2019-2020 school year.
 
The LCUSD Governing Board’s highest priority is the health and safety of its students, teachers, staff, and families. In complete alignment with this priority is the Board’s commitment to make informed, incremental, and purposeful local agency decisions. Therefore, LCUSD will not be immediately responding to these new recommendations. The Governing Board will reconvene in mid-April to review and assess a further extension of our school facility closure date. At that point we will have more information on COVID-19 spread and spiking, more information on our successful implementation of required/graded distance learning, and more information on options for the final weeks of the school year.
 
In the meantime, please don’t succumb to social distancing fatigue. Please continue your civic duty and neighborly commitment to healthy habits (wash your hands and refrain from touching your face) and staying at home in order to slow the spread of the infection curve. These are our weapons to fight the coronavirus and we must all do our part. As a Community you have all done an incredible job - please keep it up and stay strong.
 
LCUSD’s Response to COVID-19:
 
This agenda item presentation lasted 3 hours. I have attached the slide show for your review. It contains a comprehensive review of all of the actions and services the District has taken and provided in response to COVID-19 and as a result of our school facility closures.
 
 
Additionally, summarized below are the important details related to the District’s move to required and graded distance learning which will commence after spring break on Tuesday, April 14, 2020. There are many details contained in the enumerated items below and I encourage parents and students in grades 7-12 to review them so that we are all prepared to engage in meaningful required/graded distance learning on the Tuesday after Spring Break.
 
I appreciate the partnership of our community as we continue to make health and safety our first priority while providing meaningful distance learning experiences to our students. These experiences will facilitate grade level and course completion, and enhance the climate of care for all students, teachers, staff, and families. We are committed to joining together to stop the spread of COVID-19.
 
Sincerely and with gratitude,
 
Wendy Sinnette
Superintendent

LCUSD GUIDELINES FOR REQUIRED AND GRADED DISTANCE LEARNING
 
1. LCUSD’s move to required and graded distance learning is to ensure that students progress through the curriculum, moving towards grade level or course completion with accountability. This will ensure that students will be able to advance to the next grade level and earn course credit at the secondary level as we engage in distance learning over the period of the school facility closures.
 
2. In order to support the transition to required and graded distance learning, the Friday before Spring Break (April 3, 2020) and the Monday after Spring Break (April 11, 2020) will be non-instructional teacher preparation days and NO distance learning will be provided by teachers on these days. Teacher preparation days/non-instructional days will also be held beginning Friday, April 17, 2020, and continuing every other Friday after that for the duration of the school facility closures.
 
3. It goes without saying, instructional days for teachers are full. During the course of an instructional day, teachers engage in direct instruction, planning, grading, professional development, grade level or department collaboration, attending IEP and 504 meetings, and communicating with students and/or families.
 
4. Due to the demanding nature of the Safer at Home order, flexibility throughout a day of distance learning is a must for teachers, students, and families.
 
5. When we commence with distance learning after Spring Break, teachers will issue grades for distance learning assignments, assessments, and/or activities that are identified to students as required. This will be our practice until the end of school facility closures. All assignments, activities, projects, and assessments that a teacher deems as required and graded shall only enhance a student’s grade and shall not be punitive. For LCHS 7-12, no third quarter grades or progress reports shall be issued. Decisions regarding final grades/report card formats are yet to be determined.
 
6. If a student is not fully participating in required and graded distance learning, administrators and sometimes counselors will reach out to parents to discuss the reasons why and set a plan going forward. We recognize that in the Safer at Home response to COVID-19, family circumstances may be complicated and we are all committed to being flexible and working to support student success.
 
7. Some teachers may identify essential assignments from the first three weeks of LCUSD’s distance learning program which must be completed in order to ensure consistency of student content knowledge at the beginning of the required/graded distance learning period on April 14, 2020. Individual teachers may identify these assignments prior to spring break and give them a due date in the graded assignment window. Students who have not been actively participating in the optional phase of distance learning should utilize the time on Friday, April 3, and Monday, April 13, to complete these assignments.
 
8. Just as it is when learning takes place in the classroom, teachers determine pace of instruction; choice of district curricular materials; instructional delivery methodology; and development of course assignments, activities and assessments based on the needs of their students and requirements of the class or course.
 
9. The use of district approved video-conferencing platforms by teachers to interact with students (Google Hangout or Zoom) are optional, although encouraged by the District. If a teacher elects to use a video-conferencing platform, parents/guardians are encouraged to monitor the appropriate use of this medium or any other district-approved digital platform with their student(s).
 
10. Special Education teachers will provide continuity of learning through a variety of distance learning resources as appropriate so that Special Education students have access to the same learning opportunities as other students.
 
11. English Language Development teachers will provide support to English Language Learners that helps them continue to make progress toward English language proficiency. At the elementary level, English Language Development teachers will be collaborating with students’ teachers to help ensure students can access the distance learning assignments.
_______________________________________

March 25, 2020
Dear LCUSD Community,
 
I hope this email finds our families managing well as you stay safe at home in efforts to flatten the COVID-19 infection curve. Daily, throughout the District, we miss our students and staff on our school campuses.

I wanted to provide you with a few updates from a conference call at 7:30 a.m. this morning with the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE). It was reported that currently there are 799 COVID-19 identified cases and 13 coronavirus deaths have been reported in Los Angeles County. LACOE also informed Superintendents of updated social distancing guidelines from the Department of Public Health, which now advise against any visitors to homes and any playdates for children.
 
Districts were also informed that timelines for Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAPs) will be suspended. Existing local agency plans will roll forward to 2020-2021. These plans guide districts’ local goal setting and related actions and services and tie directly to school districts’ budgets. LACOE also advised that Districts plan for funding reductions from the State to be effected within the current fiscal year, along with substantive funding cuts anticipated in 2020-2021 given the financial crisis related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In LCUSD we have only essential personnel reporting to the school sites and district offices. Principals are holding office hours most days at the school sites to assist with staff needs and to provide emergency pick-ups of items by families. Our food services department remains open with a limited crew at LCHS providing service of between 40-60 grab and go lunches to families. The Business Services remains closed to the public, but open to handle payroll as well as accounts payables and receivables. District administration and a limited Tech crew continue to report as well.

The next meeting of the LCUSD Governing Board will be held on Tuesday, March 31, 2020. The Brown Act has been further modified such that this meeting will be completely virtual. The Governing Board and District Cabinet will be using the Zoom platform and there will be the opportunity for the public to comment. I will send you more information on accessing this meeting in a future email. Besides contract and bid approval agenda items, there will be a presentation on LCUSD’s Response to COVID-19 and School Closures and a discussion/potential action item to review the possibility of extending school closures past the April 19, 2020 date which coincides with the Governor’s Safer at Home order. The Governing Board will review the LACOE recommendation for all schools to remain closed until Tuesday, May 5, 2020.

Some of the daily business the District is engaging in is with our labor associations, the La Cañada Teachers Association (LCTA) and the California Schools Employees Association (CSEA). The District and Association Teams are meeting (virtually) to bargain the effects of these unprecedented working conditions. The negotiations are collaborative and all parties are engaged together to create the best possible outcomes.

Finally, the most important work of the District is happening “safer at home.” Our teachers are exploring active ways to engage students with distance learning and to maintain their personal connections with them. Our students are participating in the lessons and activities and working hard to continue their learning. Parents, our third group of heroes, are managing households which now include the teaching and learning environment. You are all doing an amazing job and as a community we are so grateful to you for your love and stamina.

I’m working on a future message that employs some of our distance learning technology and gets me out of the “email only” environment. If you have a teaching or learning photo from your household that you wouldn’t mind me sharing districtwide in a future communication, I’d really appreciate you sending it to me.

Again, I hope you all are staying healthy, practicing social distancing protocols, taking care, and finding small joys to sustain you as we all step up to fight the spread of coronavirus.

Sincerely and with gratitude,

Wendy Sinnette
Superintendent
_______________________________________
March 18, 2020

Dear LCUSD Community,


I wanted to share with you a status update in relation to COVID-19, our school closures, and distance learning.  This morning, members of the District Leadership Team and I were on a 7:30 a.m. teleconference with the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) and a 10:00 a.m. teleconference with the California Department of Education and the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Thurmond.  We learned a few things, received some distance learning guidelines (of which LCUSD is already leading and implementing), but were left with many unanswered questions. I’d like to update you with: What we know; What we are waiting to learn; and Actions we are taking.


What we know:

  • Pending approval of a waiver submitted by the California Department of Education, students will not be subjected to any state testing requirements - state testing will be suspended for this school year.
  • The federal requirements have not been relaxed and, therefore, issues of equity and access are still controlling how districts respond to on-line learning participation and grading requirements.
  • At this time, LCUSD’s Governing Board has voted for district-wide school closures to continue through March 27, 2020.  This decision will be reviewed during the week of March 23, 2020 (if not earlier) and any extension will be immediately communicated to the LCUSD Community. 
  • Governor Newsom said yesterday: “This is a very sober thing to say, and I can’t say this with certainty, but I can say this quite learnedly: Don’t anticipate in a few weeks. ...I don’t want to mislead you.  I would plan and assume that it’s unlikely that many of these schools - few, if any - will open before the summer break.”

What we are waiting to learn:

  • What are the State or County-level recommendations/mandates for the length of time for school closures based upon Department of Public Health assessments to flatten the curve for COVID-19 infection?
  • How will State and Federal mandates be relaxed or repealed to better allow local educational agencies to meet the huge demands and burdens being placed on families and employees in efforts to ensure students’ academic progress via distance learning?

Actions we are taking:

  • Our teachers are doing a stellar job of delivering distance learning opportunities to our students.  LCUSD will continue to support and provide them with professional development so that quality remote instruction may be delivered throughout the time of our school closures.
  • LCUSD support staff continues to address campus needs in preparation for the reopening of our school sites.
  • We are actively planning for how to make the shift, primarily for LCHS 9-12 courses, to distance learning for credit.  This would entail mandatory remote learning student participation and assignment completion so that students earn credit for courses and, if necessary, close out the school year with completed course grades on their transcripts.
  • We are revising Quarter 3 grade reporting policies and timelines to provide students in grades 7-12 the necessary opportunities to remediate grades which were negatively impacted by our decision to close school. 
  • We are designing plans to ensure admissions, deferred acceptances, and merit scholarships of our LCHS seniors are not limited because of our school closures.

Finally, LCUSD is committed to doing everything in its power to support students, staff, and families during this very difficult time.  Please continue to communicate with me and other District Administration and your Principals. We appreciate the emails of support, but even more we need to hear from you regarding the student learning challenges you encounter.  As a public school district, we face constraints imposed at the County, State, and Federal levels. However, we are determined to respond by thinking outside of the box to ensure that as a community we are at the fore of delivering a world class education despite any adversity.  Our students, staff, and families deserve that, and more.


I will be in touch with answers to these questions and the articulation of our updated distance learning planning as soon as I am able.  In the meantime, please continue with learning routines and schoolwork, family opportunities for togetherness and exploration, and healthy practices to ensure our community’s part in flattening the rate of this pandemic.


Sincerely and with gratitude,


Wendy Sinnette

Superintendent

_______________________________________
March 16, 2020
Dear LCUSD Community,
 
I hope this email finds you well as we complete the second day of our District-wide school closures in response to the COVID-19 health crisis.
 
I wanted to write to you to clarify some questions that the Principals and District Office Administration have been fielding in relation to distance learning. In order to facilitate a feeling of normalcy, routine, and a commitment to learning during the school closures, the District has elected to make online learning opportunities that will focus on reinforcement and enrichment available to all students. As we begin this new way to engage students by remote learning, it requires us all to be flexible and adaptable. As you are aware, distance learning will begin on Tuesday, March 17, as planned. Some teachers have already shared initial lessons or activities, but tomorrow you should see learning opportunities shared by all teachers. The following is a list of important guidelines as we seek to promote learning and provide daily educational routines to our students in these unprecedented times.
 
•The goal of distance learning is to provide educational opportunities for enrichment, reinforcement, and review. It is understood that this will look differently as determined by the teacher. Some teachers will elect to support learning by reinforcing concepts and standards which were taught prior to school closing. Others may wish to provide learning opportunities that will allow students a chance to move forward in their curriculum.
 
•Teachers will be communicating clear learning expectations for their students. This will provide students with a sense of connection to their school life. As possible, teachers will guide students regarding pacing their learning and prompt them about what meaningful progress looks like. I anticipate that hearing from their teachers will promote a sense of distance learning engagement and responsibility in students.
 
•Assignments, possibly including assessments offered as a learning opportunity, may be given but cannot be mandated. As a District, we understand that student home life during this health emergency may be such that it does not allow all students to be able to complete school work reliably.
 
•Providing feedback to students based upon completed assignments and assessments is encouraged of teachers. This way students know if they are meeting the expected learning targets. Teachers will endeavor to monitor student work completed during the period of distance learning. Assignment and assessment grades from the period of distance learning will not factor into the calculation of any third trimester (elementary) or fourth quarter (secondary) grades.
 
•No student attendance will be taken during the period of distance learning.
 
•Special education services and supports will focus on ensuring that students with disabilities have equal access to these opportunities. Consistent with this, special education teachers are developing online supports and resources in a similar manner as their general education counterparts. If your child receives special education services and is having difficulty with accessing these opportunities, please contact his/her case manager so that the case manager can explore ways to provide assistance. If your child is on a Section 504 plan, you may want to contact your child’s Section 504 coordinator.
 
Again, please note that these learning opportunities are just that - opportunities. At the present time, they should not be viewed as mandatory assignments, they will not be graded, and participation is optional. If students do complete assignments, teachers will provide feedback on those assignments in order to assist the learning process. While these opportunities are optional, we encourage all students to take advantage of them in order to reinforce normalcy, routine, and educational structure.
 
Please understand that the present situation is fluid and that we are awaiting further guidance from the California Department of Education (CDE) regarding what steps school districts must take if closures continue for an extended period of time. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we await their guidance.
 
Finally, I know this transition to distance learning places unique and very real demands upon teachers, parents and students. These dramatic changes are difficult and I am empathetic to the stressors being faced by our entire District community. Learning opportunities which promote enrichment, review, and reinforcement and which also ensure that we are in line with equitable access for all students, provide our students and families with as much educational support as possible and currently serve as our only avenue for a successful school-to-home partnership. Our teachers have fully invested in the design of meaningful distance learning opportunities and I am so impressed by the planning and effort they have demonstrated. Both our teachers and families should enter this learning endeavor taking care to practice daily routines, healthy practices, and efforts to ensure calm and consistency in work and family life.
As you have questions, please feel free to reach out to me or your Principal. If you need technical support, please visit help.lcusd.net to see support guides or to submit a tech ticket. You can also our tech hotline between 8am-4pm at (818) 952-4283.
 
And, attached are some additional on-line learning resources.
 
Sincerely and in partnership,
 
Wendy Sinnette
Superintendent
_______________________________________
March 13, 2020

Dear LCUSD Community,


Before we enter the weekend, I wanted to reach out to you with the most recent updates regarding LCUSD’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and our recent decision to engage in a school closure period to support community-wide efforts to flatten the infection curve.


This morning the Los Angeles County Department of Education (LACOE) held an emergency teleconference with its 80 school districts.  LACOE recommended that all districts enact districtwide school closures commencing as early as today and extending through Friday, March 27, 2020.  LCUSD had already taken action, exercising its local authority last night by taking action to close our schools beginning today through Monday, March 23.  In response to LACOE’s recommendation and to ensure that we are doing everything possible to promote the health of families and staff and reduce the risk of exposure, the Governing Board again held an emergency meeting today at 3:30 p.m. and voted to extend our schools’ closures through the recommended date, Friday, March 27, 2020.


As you are all aware, this is a rapidly changing situation which requires us all to stay informed, be vigilant regarding healthful practices, and stand united in our efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19.  La Canada Unified School District Offices will remain open and I will continue to communicate updates. Many reports indicate that it is likely school closures may extend for additional weeks, but we will assess and make our determinations for anything beyond our current window by March 26, 2020.


Many teachers have already shared distance learning experiences with students, but you will see enrichment, remediation, and reinforcement learning opportunities come to your students from all of our instructional staff by Tuesday.  Staff at all of the school sites were amazing today. They were inventive, positive, and enthusiastic about engaging with students remotely. I am thankful to them for their professionalism and adaptability.


To our students, parents, and community, thank you for your understanding and support.  We are allies in the mission to respond with care and prevention to this global health crisis.


Please rest, eat healthily, stay warm, and wash your hands while you enjoy a well-deserved weekend.


Sincerely yours,


Wendy Sinnette

Superintendent

_______________________________________
March 12, 2020
Dear LCUSD Community,
 
This evening the LCUSD Board of Education held an emergency meeting to review and address the LCUSD Coronavirus Response. The Governing Board gave direction for a District-wide School Closure from Friday, March 13 through Monday, March 23, 2020.
 
Students will not report to school from Friday, March 13 through Monday, March 23, 2020. Teachers and staff will report on Friday to further prepare materials which will be sent home to students via distance learning. Because of the lateness of this notification, for LCHS 7-12 students the IRC will be open tomorrow from 7:45 a.m. – 3:15 p.m. with supervision and students may spend the instructional day there as needed. At all of our school sites, classrooms will be open during the school day for students/parents to pick up materials and belongings in preparation for the 7 school day closure.
 
The decision to close schools was made at the local level. There are currently no cases of COVID-19 reported within LCUSD. Please know that the determination was not made lightly and we recognize that it will introduce some hardships for many of our families. Given the rapidly changing nature of coronavirus outbreak, we will remain in constant communication with local and state health officials, provide regular updates to our families, teachers, and staff, and work to be as agile and responsive in our decision-making as possible. This latest decision has been made in an abundance of caution for the health and safety of our school district community and with an eye towards sharing responsibility with the broader community to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.
 
Next week, the LCUSD District Office will remain open to support families and staff, answering questions and providing resources as we are able. Maintenance and Custodial Staff will continue to report to the school sites next week in order to utilize the time to clean and sterilize our classrooms and offices.
 
Please check the LCUSD website regularly for health updates during this time. I will notify families and staff on Thursday, March 19 regarding the status of schools and whether to anticipate schools re-opening after March 23, 2020.
 
Clearly we will all face new challenges in the coming days. LCUSD’s two most significant priorities are to promote the health and safety of students, staff, and families and deliver a world class robust and rigorous education to our students. With the coronavirus health crisis those two priorities might seem to have met at a crossroads. We determined to close our schools to be proactive agents responding to the pandemic crisis. But, we are determined as a District to ensure that teaching and learning continues through meaningful and powerful distance learning. It’s a new frontier, and there will be bumps in the road, but we will fully embrace the challenge and produce great outcomes. I am so proud of our community and grateful for your unwavering commitment to always do the right thing for the right reasons.
 
Follow-up emails will come from your site Principals and there will be much guidance from our LCUSD Technology Department. Teachers’ instructional planning is targeted to take place on Friday, March 13, and Monday, March 16. We anticipate the distance learning for students to begin by Tuesday, March 17. As your Superintendent, I will continue to send out emails to provide clarity and give direction over the course of the next week.
 
As a transitional day on Friday, March 13th, CEC child care schedules will be maintained for currently enrolled families according to their assigned schedules. Look for an email from CEC with more details.
 
Thank you for your partnership during these uncertain times.
 
Sincerely,
 
Wendy Sinnette
Superintendent
_______________________________________
Sent on March 12, 2020
Dear LCUSD Community,
 
I wanted to update you again regarding the most recent developments related to the coronavirus in Los Angeles County and the resultant impacts for our school district community. As of the time of this writing, Los Angeles County has confirmed another case of COVID-19 with unknown exposure. This makes for a total of two cases of community transmission and takes the recommended precautions for school districts from the County Department of Public Health to the next level. As such, through the end of Spring Break, LCUSD will continue with or newly implement the following precautions to assist with containing coronavirus spread, following that we will reassess for the months of April and May:

LCUSD school sites will cancel all large group afterschool events, programs, and activities.
LCUSD school sites will cancel or postpone multi-grade level assemblies and non-essential programs within the school day.
LCHS 7-12 sports practices and competitions will take place but without spectators.
Large meetings outside of the instructional day will be staggered in smaller groups, canceled, postponed, or moved to an online platform when possible.
LCUSD will cancel or postpone all field trips through Spring Break.
 
Also during the remainder of the month, parents should check their students and teachers and staff should self-check each morning for any fever and/or respiratory infection symptoms and should not come to school or work if these are present.
 
The District will limit all non-essential travel for students and staff through the end of Spring Break and we ask that, wherever possible, families do the same.
 
Per the Department of Public Health, schools continue to remain safe places for our students, especially given these precautions. Guidelines from the Los Angeles County Office of Education indicate that public school closures should only occur at the direction of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
 
LCUSD will remain vigilant and in continuous contact with the Department of Public Health and the Center for Disease Control. We will assess all of these social distancing precautions on a month-by-month basis unless otherwise directed by the Department of Public Health and we will keep you regularly informed regarding events and schedules at the individual school sites so that you feel involved and included in our planning. None of these precautions are intended to cause increased concern or panic, but instead to provide the healthiest environments possible given the health risks identified within the larger County community.
 
I have asked the school site Principals to follow up with you regarding the specific calendars and schedules at your school so that there is complete clarity regarding events and expectations.
 
I am grateful to our community for the generosity of spirit, flexibility, and togetherness shown during this difficult time. As a community, when faced with demanding challenges, our families, teachers, and staff continually demonstrate their inherent commitment to children, neighbors, and friends. Thank you.
 
Sincerely,
 
Wendy Sinnette
Superintendent
_______________________________________
Sent on March 11, 2020
Dear LCUSD Community,
 
I have several significant items to report to you as a result of last evening’s meeting of the LCUSD Governing Board. In my Superintendent’s Report I shared with the Board and public the District’s extensive planning with regard to distance learning as we prepare for the possibilities of school closures as a result of the spread of COVID-19. Ultimately, my report led the Board to agendize a discussion item regarding upcoming out-of-state student field trips which involve air travel.
 
During their discussion of the air travel field trips, the Board reviewed the importance of minimizing the risk of coronavirus exposure to students, staff, and families and the increasing public health responsibility all agencies must assume regarding infection prevention. Additionally, with distance/air travel we forgo our abilities to manage risk and containment. The scenario of a group of students being quarantined across the country and the District being unable to unite students and parents is not a possibility that we can responsibly entertain. Therefore, with the support of the Governing Board, I am canceling all out-of-state/air travel field trips. We have large groups scheduled to go to Valley Forge, New Orleans, New York City, Dayton, and Houston in the coming weeks and months and those trips are canceled. This decision will be met with much student disappointment and for that I am incredibly remorseful, but we must keep our shared commitment to student and community health and safety as our priority.
 
Our next steps are to work with our field trip vendors on recouping trip costs for families or postponing the field trip experiences. For PCY and PCR’s 5th grade Valley Forge experience, Freedoms Foundation is willing to reschedule their trips for the fall of 2020 and we will begin discussing those arrangements. For the other trips, the District will partner with the school administration and trip organizers to achieve the best possible financial remedies with the vendors. We will keep parents informed as we make progress on this.
 
All other student field trips currently remain scheduled. We will actively monitor those given public health recommendations and keep you informed of any cancelations or event modifications.
 
I will be sharing weekly email updates on Wednesdays with the community following a Superintendents’ Teleconference with the Los Angeles County Office of Education and the Los Angeles Department of Public Health. Also, please visit the LCUSD website regularly as we are continually updating and curating resources and information there to keep the community informed on COVID-19. Districts are being asked to actively assess large group activities and make determinations regarding cancelations on a case by case basis in deference to the importance of social distancing. We will keep you informed regarding the status of events and gatherings. This Friday, March 13, is the LCHS Choral Spring Festival Concert. The District is arranging with the First United Methodist Church to have the concert livestreamed. We ask that families consider taking advantage of the livestreaming opportunity to facilitate social distancing and to promote public health recommendations regarding limiting large group gatherings.
 
Clearly, this is a very dynamic situation and we are working to be proactive and responsive. LCUSD continues to engage in preventative practices at our schools, routinely cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched services and providing disposable wipes to refresh commonly used surfaces. We ask that families continue to engage in healthy preventative actions like staying home when sick, appropriately covering coughs and sneezes, and ensuring good handwashing habits. Just as the District continues to prepare remote/digital learning plans to ensure for the continuity of instruction in the event of a school closure, I ask that families also begin thinking about child care plans and ensuring that basic supplies are available in their homes. As a community, it is essential that we remain calm and reasonable in our responses to the coronavirus outbreak, but that we take all of the necessary precautions to adeptly respond to new developments.
 
Sincerely,
 
Wendy Sinnette
Superintendent
_______________________________________

Sent on March 4, 2020

Dear LCUSD Community,
 
I wanted to share with you a brief District update related to the Coronavirus, now being referred to as COVID-19. Attached to this email are references to information shared in prior communications regarding recommended illness prevention practices, recommended practices related to illness, and recommended home preparedness practices (new).
 
LCUSD remains in continuous contact with the Los Angeles County Office of Education, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), neighboring school districts, and other state agencies in our on-going efforts to closely monitor COVID-19 and share best practices to ensure that our community remains at low risk of being impacted by the Coronavirus.
 
LCUSD has an ample supply of the appropriate cleaning agents and our Custodial Staff has been well-trained and directed to clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces. Wipes and hand sanitizers have been purchased and are being provided to classrooms for daily use. Our Health Services Staff at each site are watching for symptoms and being responsive to families’ questions and concerns. LCUSD asks families to continue to engage the recommended illness prevention practices (see below).
 
With regard to upcoming field trip travel, the CDC provides recommendations on postponing or cancelling travel. These are called travel notices and are based on the CDC’s assessment of the potential health risks involved with traveling to a certain area. Currently, all of the proposed destinations for field trip travel are considered low risk and the CDC does not recommend cancelling or postponing travel.
 
LCUSD is engaging in continuous monitoring, planning, and preparation in order to be as responsive as possible to this evolving situation. Our District is prepared to support students, staff, and families and is ready to immediately follow recommendations given by Los Angeles Public Health. We ask that the community stay engaged and informed regarding COVID-19, remembering that health risks are low at this time and the importance of panic-free healthy practices. It is also important to answer student questions related to the Coronavirus. Please follow the link below for an educational video for students on the illness.
 
 
Thank you for your support as we partner in response to this developing health issue.
 
Sincerely yours,
Wendy Sinnette
Superintendent
_______________________________________

Sent on February 25, 2020

Dear LCUSD Community,
 
I have received several emails from concerned parents regarding the Novel Coronavirus and the District's preparedness to respond in the event of "community transmission" in the United States. Please be advised that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has shared that the precautions taken in the United States have been working, as evidenced by the low number of cases in the country so far. LCUSD remains in continuous contact with the Los Angeles County Office of Education and receives regular updates from the CDC. At this time, no recommendations for district or school-based plans have been issued, but LCUSD is ready to respond if the need arises. We are aware that plans could entail limiting face-to-face contact, arranging for small group instruction, exploring internet based learning, or canceling large group gatherings. As a district we are prepared to respond, but we are also aware that we are not currently at risk.
 
The most important community response at this time is for everyone to take steps to reduce the risk of getting sick or infecting others with circulating viruses. To do this, you and your family members should:
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Limit close contact, like kissing and sharing cups or utensils, with people who are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. If you do not have a tissue, use your sleeve (not your hands).
  • Facemasks are most effective when used appropriately by health care workers and people who are sick.
  • Get a flu shot to prevent influenza if you have not done so this season.
 
For a Frequently Asked Questions guideline from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, please see the attachment link below.
 
The District is continuously monitoring the situation with local agencies and will keep our community informed of any developments related to this public health matter.
 
Sincerely,
Wendy Sinnette
Superintendent
_______________________________________
Sent on January 28, 2020

Dear LCUSD Community:

 
As you may know, there have been reports of a new virus in China called the novel coronavirus. While there have been a few isolated cases outside of China, our community as a whole is at a very low level of risk. We want to reassure you that we are monitoring the situation, but there is currently no reason to suspect the coronavirus will approach or impact our community.

We would like to use this as an opportunity to remind you about some best practices to avoid spreading any infection:
 
  • If your student is sick or exhibiting contagious symptoms such as fever, cough, or sneezing, please keep them home from school to avoid spreading illness.  Keeping your sick child home will be a great benefit for the health and wellness of our students and staff.  If students are sent to school sick, they may be removed from class and school as deemed appropriate by our staff and district nurse.  Per LCUSD policy, your student must be fever-free for 24 hours before returning to school.
  • Remind your student that hands should be washed often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • When coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth and nose. Dispose of tissue immediately and wash hands.
  • Avoid contact with anyone exhibiting cold-like symptoms.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work, or school, especially when someone is ill.
  • Practice other good health habits - get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.
 
Additionally, if planning travel to China please refer to the CDC’s Traveler Guidance website and follow appropriate safety precautions.  If you, your child, or family recently traveled to or from China, please take extra precautions and seek a medical evaluation from your doctor before returning to school.
 
Again, we are confident in the global health community’s assessment of a low risk level, and will be monitoring the situation closely in case that assessment changes.
 
In the meantime, if you have any additional questions or concerns, do not hesitate to reach out to our District Nurse, Mr. Chris Henry, who may be reached at chenry@lcusd.net.
 
Sincerely,
Wendy Sinnette
Superintendent