By LILY TINOCO | Reporter
During the Palisades Charter High School Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday, February 9, members discussed updates regarding the future return to campus as distance learning continues in the 2020-21 school year.
Public comments, as well as student, parent and faculty reports, questioned whether a plan to reopen is in place, all seeking answers about when and how Pali High will reopen safely.
“We’ve watched [the students] struggle with distance learning, every day we witness them being sad, angry, anxious, frustrated and depressed,” Non-Traveling Parent Board Member Jewlz Fahn said. “A large number of Pali students are leaving to go to private schools because they have been promised in-person learning … many parents have reached out to me to voice their concerns and complaints because they feel they are not getting answers from the administration.
“They come from different zip codes yet all have the same concerns … will we ever go back to school? Do the teachers even want to go back to school? Does the administration care?”
Fahn added parents are at their “wits’ end” and will do anything to get their children back in school or a hybrid-model “at the very least.”
Faculty Board Member Paula Anderson said teachers want to return to campus just as much as the students do: “It’s not working for us either.”
Anderson said faculty would like to see the implementation of safety precautions, including COVID-19 vaccinations, testing, and proper air and ventilation at the school. Additional board members expressed that student well-being is a major source of concern, as well as a decline in academic performance.
Due to the school’s location on district property and the LAUSD-PCHS Sole Occupancy Agreement, Pali High does not have full autonomy when it comes to the decision to reopen. Director of Operations Don Parcell said LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner sent a letter to all schools on January 7 stating students are not allowed on campus.
“Not for assessments, not for athletic conditioning, not for sports, nothing,” Parcell said. “There [are] very clear restrictions from LAUSD.”
According to updated LA County Department of Public Health orders, no school may return students to campus for instruction until the adjusted case rate for the county has decreased to below 25 cases per 100,000 population for five consecutive days.
Parcell also said the school has purchased large quantities of personal protective equipment; it is reportedly in stock and on campus, including face shields, masks, gloves, hand sanitizer dispensers and more.
Principal Dr. Pamela Magee said meetings are scheduled for next week to further discuss the topic.
“We have spent many, many hours working on plans,” she reported. “Each time we develop something, there are constant changes … it’s not that there’s not work being done but circumstances rapidly change.”
Magee said a more detailed presentation will be ready in March.
The meeting also presented changes to help this year’s seniors, asking the board to vote on a proposal to adjust graduation requirements from 230 to 210 credits by reducing required elective credits from 75 to 55 for the Class of 2021 only.
Director of Academic Planning and Guidance Services Chris Lee reported that 10% of the current senior class is behind in credits for graduation, adding that this group is comprised of Pali High’s most vulnerable students and many are suffering from the realities of COVID-19 at home. Lee said this is part of Pali High’s overall intervention strategy.
After some discussion, the motion was passed unanimously.
The board’s next meeting is scheduled to take place via Zoom on Tuesday, March 16, at 5 p.m.
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