By LILY TINOCO | Reporter
Palisades Charter High School invited families to attend a virtual town hall on Wednesday, April 7, to answer questions from the community, as well as provide up-to-date information on the remainder of the school year and beyond.
“We know this has been an incredibly challenging school year, and so many things have changed rapidly in the last several weeks,” Pali High Principal Dr. Pamela Magee said at the start of the meeting. “We wanted to have an opportunity to get in front of some of the questions … you have and really be able to provide some of the answers that you need, not just for the immediate semester but also looking toward next year.”
Magee said the school’s top priority is to get students back in the classrooms, but because of the LAUSD-PCHS Sole Occupancy Agreement, the school is mandated to follow LAUSD Health and Safety Guidelines.
LAUSD District 4 Representative Nick Melvoin explained there are unique challenges in the secondary model, primarily that stable cohorts “are thrown out the window.”
“Students on a typical day are going from six to seven classes … the consensus, unfortunate though it may be, was that we had to have students come in in-person but for continued virtual instruction,” Melvoin said.
Melvoin said he hopes to discuss plans with LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner with the goal of having a full-day schedule come August.
UTLA chapter Co-Chairs Steve Klima and Dave Suarez said teachers have expressed they would like to return to an in-person format; the duo is responsible for ensuring everyone returns to a safe environment.
“People want to know, ‘Are we going to be back in the fall?’ That’s something that I think we need to be working on literally day and night to come up with plans to return in the fall,” Suarez said. “We need to have contingencies for everything that’s out there … if you look at what’s going on in Europe and other states right now, we need to be prepared.
“We need to fully cater a plan that’s going to serve our students, it’s going to protect the teachers and everyone who’s on campus, and that plan has to have flexibility and understanding.”
Pali High Director of Operations Don Parcell said plans are adapting as things continually change, but the school has secured up to six months’ worth of personal protective equipment and supplies for all 3,000 Pali High students and 240 staff members. He said each classroom is equipped with a kit of masks, gloves, wipes, disinfecting spray, paper towels, hand sanitizer and more. Portable hand washing and sanitation stations have also been distributed throughout the campus.
Parcell said LAUSD requires weekly negative COVID tests for all faculty, staff and students to return to campus—including at Pali High. Additional protocols include passing a Health Check via the StopIt SafeScreen mobile application and a temperature check.
Director of Academic Planning and Guidance Services Chris Lee said over 700 students applied and were accepted to Pali High’s Return to Campus program.
Lee said the program is different from LAUSD’s “Zoom in a Room” and focuses on interaction, providing academic enrichment and support. The program began this week and will continue through Thursday, May 27. Students are slated to meet two days per week: ninth- and 10th-grade students on Mondays and Wednesdays, 11th- and 12th-grade students on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Pali High also announced a slew of activities for the Class of 2021, including a semi-formal prom on Friday, June 4, and an in-person graduation ceremony on Thursday, June 10, that will adhere to safety guidelines.
“We are really excited … we’ll have music, we’re going to have a great time,” social science teacher John Rauschuber said.
For more information or to watch the information session, visit palihigh.org.
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