Culver City School Board Meeting Seats New Members, and Grapples with Reopening

Culver City Unified School District Superintendent Leslie Lockhart summed it up in her opening statement at the Dec. 15, 2020 Board Meeting, saying, “2020 has not been my favorite year.”  She spoke of a colleague who had lost 11 family members to the coronavirus, and noted how vital it was, how critically life saving, to follow the protocols to prevent the spread of infection.

“In these last nine months,” Lockhart said, “We have done great and difficult work – and it’s not over – it’s not even close to being done. We have all made changes in our lives to literally save the lives of others. Our students have had their lives changed, while their expectations and workload have not changed at all. We must continue to find a way to compromise.”

With 196 people signed onto the zoom call, emotions were intense and the meeting went more then seven hours. School Board President Summer McBride ran things with an even hand, and an open ear. Swearing in newly elected School Board member Paula de Herrera Amazola, and re-seating incumbent Dr. Kelly Kent into board positions, she also offered thanks to outgoing board member Anna Allaire, who was not present. Board members Dr. Steven Levin and Dr. Tashon McKeithan both continued in the positions for the new term.

At the meeting, every detail on reopening was considered, discussed, and considered again.

According to the District’s weekly newsletter, Culver Pride, there have been a minimal number of learning pods have been back on campus since November, with rigorous protocols in place. However, there have been some positive cases within these pods. According to CCUSD Head Nurse Dianna Castro, the most likely source of these positive cases is via family members of the students or other people in their circle outside of school. Evidence strongly indicates that the virus is not being passed from student to student and/or to teachers and pod supervisors.

When a positive case is reported, the pod is immediately shut down and the members of the pod are told to quarantine at home.

Many teachers spoke passionately that, while they miss their students, they are concerned for their own safety and for that of their families should they be required to return to the classroom while Los Angeles County is in the Purple Tier. This was on the heels of Board members expressing concern and support for the mental health of teaching staff as well as the students.
An equal number of parents, some students, and a few teachers from the upper grades spoke just as passionately in favor of figuring out ways to get the students back to campus in some capacity, via learning in outdoor spaces and/or extracurricular activities such as sports, arts and clubs. Citing that their children are suffering emotional distress, “disappearing,” and losing interest in school, parents pleaded for the District to find some safe ways for social interaction.
The bulk of the meeting was spent on C-19 protocols, including a presentation by Assistant Superintendent Tracy Pumilia about various options for bringing students back to campus in phases. This presentation can be found HERE.
With the schools currently out on winter break, the County Health numbers for the next two weeks will have a powerful influence on what happens next. How CCUSD meets the challenge in 2021 will be the task for the next board meeting.

 

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