School Reopening Update (February 2021)

Brian Bauer

Dear Granada Hills Charter Community,

I hope this communication finds you and your family safe and healthy.

It has been over 11 months since our campuses were closed for in-person learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The purpose of this communication is to provide you with important updates on our progress to serve some students on campus and the safety measures we have in place. Our top priority for a return to campus for some form of in-person learning remains the health and safety of our students, staff, and families.

Although our campuses remain closed for Full In-Person (100 percent of students on campus) and Hybrid Learning (up to 50 percent of students on campus) Models, GHC continues to serve small groups of students on campus under our Small Cohort Learning Model that was approved last October by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. The Small Cohort Learning Model allows GHC to serve up to 25 percent of our students on campus.

Beginning in November 2020, small groups of TK-12 students began accessing in-person support on campus for one or more days per week. And although the Small Cohort Learning Model was paused in early December given the spike in COVID-19 numbers and remained on pause after our return from Winter Break, in late January small groups of TK-12 students began returning to campus for in-person learning support. The number of students on campus has gradually increased in the last three weeks, and we will continue to expand offerings as local public health conditions and GHC safety standards permit.

Our COVID-19 Safety Plan for Eventual Campus Reopening provides important details about the many measures and protocols we are implementing in order to ensure a safe learning environment on campus for GHC students and staff. Below is a summary of actions the School has taken for a return to campus learning:

  1. Retrofitted our classrooms and offices to make sure air is properly filtered.  Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) 13 air filters have been installed on HVAC units in all classrooms and offices used by staff and students. Both HVAC systems and portable air filtration systems are operating before, while, and after students and staff are present.
  2. Cleaned and sanitized every room. Daily cleaning and sanitizing continues, and targeted cleaning takes place throughout the day at high traffic locations.
  3. Provided masks and other PPE. All staff and students on campus must wear masks. Students and staff are provided face shields and masks. Daily temperature check stations are located at campus entrances for all who enter the campus. All rooms contain hand sanitizer dispensers.
  4. Reconfigured classrooms facilities to maintain social distance. Classrooms have been arranged to keep students and staff 4-6 feet apart. Plexiglass dividers have been placed in offices and on classroom desks.
  5. Created a COVID-19 screening, testing, and contact tracing program. All staff working on campus have been participating in a COVID-19 surveillance testing program since November. Beginning this week, COVID-19 testing will take place weekly on campus for all staff working on-site. Students who come on campus for in-person support will be tested weekly beginning in early March. An electronic daily health screen questionnaire is completed by all individuals before entering campus.
  6. Assigned all students on campus to a cohort or stable group. Students on campus are kept together throughout the day and are not allowed to mix with any other groups, even during breaks and lunch. Students are allowed to enter campus only at the designated check-in points.

As we prepare for additional students on campus in the coming weeks, please find below a short summary and timeline of the existing and planned learning and athletic activities for the TK-8 and high school programs:

TK-8 Program

In partnership with the YMCA, we will be offering an opportunity starting March 8, 2021 for students in Grades TK-2 to return to the Devonshire campus to participate in developmentally-appropriate learning activities that meet many academic, social, and physical needs of our students: structured play/games, music, dance/movement, arts & crafts, and hands-on science.

Beginning March 8, students in Grade 2 may attend small, stable, cohort-based sessions with their classmates from 2:30 PM-4:30 PM each day for two (2) weeks.

Grades TK, K, and 1, and then Grades 6 and 7 will be invited to participate in subsequent two-week modules or some other in-person learning experience as determined by the availability of space on our active construction site.

The TK-8 teachers will make every effort to join their scholars in these afternoon sessions. The regular instructional program for all grades will remain in the current distance learning model as we continue to develop plans for greater numbers of students to return to campus.

Additionally, the TK-8 program will continue to increase the number of students with high needs receiving targeted support on-site in the coming weeks.  

Please look for additional information on these offerings in TK-8 program updates.

High School Program

Starting on March 8, 2021, afternoon sessions will be offered for students with the highest needs, including Students with Disabilities, English Learners, and Foster/Homeless Youth. Students will be assigned to small cohorts of no more than 14 students and will attend twice a week from 1:30 pm to 3:00 pm. GHC high school teachers and staff will focus on targeted IEP or ELD goals.

Also, in-person one-one IEP specialized services will be provided outside of the classroom. At the end of each afternoon session, GHC staff will provide students with a safely prepared snack to take home.

Seniors on Campus

After spring break, small groups of seniors will be invited on campus at different times throughout the semester to participate in cohorted senior activities that will be geared toward social emotional connections, reflections and offering authentic closure to students’ high school experiences.

Seniors will be able to engage in facilitated conversations around GHC mitigating learning loss goals that include equity and authentic assessment, thus providing experienced and valuable feedback. Opportunities for connection through GHC Jeopardy and signing graduation autograph books are a few of the potential opportunities. 

Teachers will have the opportunity to volunteer to work with two cohorts of students for one week at a time. GHC will be designing 2-day modules for those seniors who wish to come on campus. There will only be a limited number of small senior class cohorts on campus at one time. Therefore, the opportunities for all seniors to come on campus will extend throughout the remainder of the semester.  

Senior Graduation Ceremony

As the School communicated earlier to students of the class of 2021 and their families, our plans to honor and celebrate this year’s graduating class during this tumultuous time are of paramount importance. If public health conditions improve and allow, our priority is to offer a safe in-person option for our graduates to mark their achievement and the culmination of their high school experience. Our plans, however, are confined to state and county health guidelines, and those can change at any moment.

Please hold June 3 and June 4, 2021 in case we are able to offer an on-campus ceremony. The graduation ceremony may occur in the morning, afternoon, or evening on those dates. Additional details including a schedule will be communicated as more information is available. To prepare for any and all scenarios, we are partnering with a high-quality film production company to create a meaningful, heartfelt virtual commencement video. This virtual commencement film will premiere on the evening of Friday, June 4 so you can commemorate this special occasion at home with your family.

We are grateful for our students and their families as we come together to uplift our seniors during one of the most challenging years of their young lives. It is our intent to stay in regular communication with you about our plans for the graduation ceremony as details crystallize throughout this ongoing global pandemic.

Athletics

The School is in the process of scheduling athletic conditioning that likely will begin the week of March 8. More information will be provided soon. In the meantime, please submit your physical form to the health office at healthphysicals@ghctk12.com and your emergency card to eligibility@ghctk12.com. Updates may be found in our weekly newsletters, and on our social media pages and the GHC athletics homepage.

As we wait and prepare for a greater return to campus learning, I ask you to continue to be vigilant with your family. The prolonged period of isolation is taking a significant toll on children and teens. The pandemic has been difficult on many, especially our students who need us more than ever as parents and educators. Please do not hesitate to report any potential or actual mental health concerns to our counselors and administrators.

In closing, I thank you for the role you are playing in the education of your children and our students during the lengthy crisis. Please let us know if there is more we can do to support you and your family. 

Sincerely,

Brian Bauer, Executive Director