Pali Officials Working on Roadmap for Reopening Plan

Palisades Charter High School administrators continue to modify the school’s Roadmap for Reopening plan, which will be presented to the Board of Trustees on Mar. 16.

Ultimately, any decision regarding when students will be allowed to return to campus for in-person learning or extracurricular activities must follow guidance from local and state governing agencies. 

According to published reports, the union representing teachers in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) are asking that teachers receive the COVID-19 vaccine before returning to classrooms. 

Although Pali is not a part of LAUSD, the school leases the land from the district and must follow district reopening rules. 

No decision has been made about whether teachers must be vaccinated before Pali can open. 

First distributed last December, the COVID-19 vaccines are currently only available in Los Angeles County to healthcare professionals and people who are age 65 or older.

As Pali moves closer to developing a plan to reopen, school nurse Stephanie Boyd is an important person in the process.

Boyd has been the credential school nurse at Pali for the last eight years. She has many responsibilities, including ensuring that all students are vaccinated with the required California vaccines and handling outbreaks of contagious diseases such as COVID-19. 

Boyd said she is not sure if all Pali students need to be vaccinated before coming back to school in-person, even though earlier this year, LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner stated that “all Los Angeles students will need to be immunized before they can return to campus.” 

Although available vaccines have met almost all Food and Drug Administration requirements, they are being distributed on Emergency Use Authorization, which “is used when the risk of the virus is higher than the risk of the vaccines,” Boyd said. “However, many parents may still not be on board and might not want their kids to take the risk.”

Even if all students, teachers and staff get immunized, Boyd stressed the importance of wearing masks and maintaining a safe distance upon a return to campus. 

“A vaccine, while it is effective against contagious diseases, doesn’t completely guarantee that you would never get sick,” Boyd said. “[The vaccines] also have not been around long enough for us to know how long they last or how effective they are.”

COVID-19 safety measures will have a significant impact on Pali’s campus setup. In order to maintain social distancing guidelines, larger classes would have to use outdoor areas and spaces such as Gilbert Hall. According to Boyd, “There would also need to be staff in the hallways during passing periods to make sure that students keep their masks up.”

If LAUSD COVID-19 guidelines do not permit a full return to campus by the upcoming fall semester, Boyd said that Pali administration will attempt to implement a hybrid schedule instead. The hybrid models may feature small groups of students, or cohorts, being allowed to return to campus on a rotating basis, according to information presented to the Board of Trustees at the Feb. 9 meeting.

“It’s possible that it will be one week at school, one week at home,” Boyd said. “It will rotate in such a way that students are safely distanced and receive the same amount of education.”

Whether students return to campus full-time or on a hybrid schedule, there are many precautions that students and staff must be prepared to take. If a student goes to the nurse’s office expressing any COVID-19 symptoms, such as a fever, sore throat or cough, Boyd said she is required to give the student a COVID-19 test. 

According to Boyd, the student will then be sent home because they are a “suspect until the test is negative.” While waiting for the results of the test, Boyd will have to make a list of all the classmates, teachers and staff members who had been in contact with the student. They would then have to leave the school and quarantine for 10 days.

“It’s complicated. It’s really complicated,” Boyd said.“The vaccine situation, like most issues related to COVID-19, is fluid and ever-changing,” Boyd added. “We are all doing our best to adapt and help Pali students return to campus as soon as possible.”