At more than seven hours, and 500 zoom participants, The Culver City Unified School Board meeting on February 23, 2021 tried to cover everything from student concerns on equity to plexiglass barriers for desks. They did a solid job with such a long list of concerns, but of course the central issue that drew such a large audience – reopening – appropriately got most of the airtime.
In a report from Assistant Superintendent of Business Services, Robert Quinn gave the details on how the schools would physically operate, touching on almost every nuance, from the ‘traffic flow’ of students in halls and the classrooms, the locks on the drinking portion of the waters fountains (bottles can still be filled) and the plexiglass shields for teacher’s desks. “To be honest, we had originally ordered them just out of an abundance of caution, thinking that we might have requests from teachers, but now we think it’s best to just distribute them to every classroom,” Quinn said.
The more medical portion of the details was handled by Co-ordinator of Health Services Dianna Castro, and she had some good news to share. “The county will begin vaccinating school employees on Monday, March 1,” noting that teachers would be the among the first to get their sleeves rolled up. “Along with LAUSD, CCUSD has been given the designation of POD – that’s a point of distribution – and so we have a shipment of vaccine that is specifically designated for our employees.”
The district had sent out a survey to parents to find out what the numbers and preferences would be on the hybrid education model. Students have the option of returning in person part time, or staying in full time distance learning. Assistant Superintendent Jenifer Slabbinck offered that Superintendent Leslie Lockhart was not at the meeting as she was recuperating from a medical procedure, and had been coordinating details by phone.
With enough students interested in returning to the classrooms, it’s expected that early April will see grades K though 5 beginning on a rotating schedule of smaller groups on campus for alternate days. Middle and High School students will begin the process later.
As CCUSD was just on the verge of returning to the classrooms before the last surge of infection, everything planned was still waiting for the numbers to come down. While infection is slowing and all the public health data show Culver City moving in a good direction, everyone is aware that the best laid plans are still not guarantees.