As we continue to plan for the eventual reopening of school and address the inherent challenges of this task, I wanted to provide the following updates. Please review the following statements from Paul Escala, Superintendent of Schools for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, and if you wish to do so, forward the attached sample email to your elected LA County Supervisor to support the reopening of our schools. While the first steps toward reopening involve elementary schools, we believe a position of advocacy to support this process will ultimately allow for the timely and safe reopening of high schools, including Damien.
Please continue to pray for Damien High School, our students, families and the communities we live in.
In Your Service,
Dr. Siegmund, PhD. ‘86
Damien High School
Message from Paul Escala, Superintendent of Schools:
On Tuesday, the county has achieved caseloads and positivity rates low enough to move into the “red” tier in two weeks if it can maintain those numbers. The county public health department continues to be concerned about a “spike” in cases and hospitalizations stemming from the Labor Day holiday, so there are no assurances that further sector reopening’s will be permitted, including schools, if the county achieves the “red” tier. We have been told to wait another six weeks.
We are collaborating with a number of other school leaders to form a coalition to appeal to the county board of supervisors for data-informed transparency and for a phased-in safe reopening of schools under the waiver process beginning with grades TK-3. I’m pleased to report that this coalition has been established and has grown to include public schools, local civic leaders, faith-based and independent schools, and pediatricians – The Students First Coalition of Los Angeles is now live! Over the next several days, letters, calls and press/media interviews will be taking place to advance our message. Archbishop Gomez is personally engaging as well. We know that many of you and your families have deep concerns about the continued isolation distance learning presents for children. We also know that some may not be ready to return, but everyone should want full transparency from our elected public officials, data-driven decision making (not political ones), prioritize our youngest students and give school communities a voice through the waiver process.
To this end, we encourage you to review the following sample letter if you wish to lend your voice to this effort. This language can be emailed or used as a script to call the members of the LA County Board of Supervisors to provide comment. The next Board of Supervisors meeting is on Tuesday, September 29th at 9:30am. We are targeting next Monday and Tuesday for advocacy, so interested parties should call and email on those days.
Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors
Supervisor Kathryn Barger, First District
Supervisor Janice Hahn, Fourth District
Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, Third District
Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Second District
Supervisor Hilda Solis, First District
I, along with a diverse coalition of K-12 public, private and faith-based school leaders, parents, civic leaders and physicians, ask you to create a pathway to safely reopen schools in LA County.
I ask that you communicate with transparent, data-driven public health metrics that allow the public to understand when and under what conditions our schools can be opened.
I ask that you follow our state’s reopening process immediately, beginning with our youngest learners in grades TK-3, who are having the most difficult time with distance education.
I ask that you follow a plan of phased re-openings for grades 4-8 and 9-12, that follow our state’s public health and safety milestones and allow all of our children the option to be back in the classroom for in-person instruction.
I ask that you restore the LA County Department of Public Health’s K-12 working group that allows education stake-holders to be part of the conversations and forces greater transparency for schools, families and the general public.
After nearly 7 months of isolation, students and their families are feeling the drastic effects of social, emotional, mental and instructional harm. Many working parents are not able to pay for childcare during the school day. Already, three quarters of families in South and East LA are experiencing income loss and food insecurity. And, LA Unified School District has reported a 14% drop in Kindergarten enrollment alone.
I know that not every school will be ready to open. And, I know that not every family will choose to send their children to school at this time. However, the waiver process will allow for education equity across neighborhoods and income levels and will improve learning for thousands of students.
I ask you to please consider this request for the good of our children, our families and our future.