COVID-19 Continues to Affect Pali Community During Spring Semester

As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to fluctuate, Pali’s administration is responding by altering guidelines and safety precautions needed to keep the campus community safe. 

On Feb 18, Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) announced that the outdoor masking mandate would be lifted effective Feb. 22. 

The California Department of Public Health and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health announced Feb. 28  that indoor masking at schools would also become optional as of March 12. The decision aligns with guidance from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which states that masking does not need to be required in indoor areas, including schools located in counties labeled as “low transmission,”  a standard that Los Angeles County is rapidly approaching.

However, LAUSD currently has an agreement with United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) to keep the mask mandate through the rest of the 2021-22 school year. Any changes would need to be bargained.

Despite the declining COVID-19 rates and LAUSD updates, UTLA teachers are in favor of requiring indoor masking.

“These protocols, like indoor masking, have protected tens of thousands of educators and more than half a million students, along with their families,” UTLA President Myart-Cruz said. “It is premature to discuss removing these health and safety measures while there are still many unvaccinated youth in our early education programs and schools.”

At Pali, there has been a noted steady decline in cases between the first and second semesters. During the fall semester, there were 556 reported COVID-19 student cases and 25 reported COVID-19 staff cases, according to information on the school’s website. On Jan. 25, there were 162 active student cases and seven active staff cases. On March 1, there were 16 active student cases and one confirmed staff case.

Regardless, Pali students and staff are required to quarantine after receiving a positive test result. A Pali freshman was among the many students infected with COVID-19 at the beginning of the Spring semester and was required to quarantine for a minimum of five days. 

“I think that the isolation period for students with COVID is as long as it needs to be,” said the student whose name is withheld to protect their privacy. “Any longer would make catching up with school work and social lives much harder.”

Both students and teachers are expected to maintain their school workload during their quarantine period. 

“From delivering content, to curriculum pacing, grading and communicating, COVID has changed everything,” Pali math teacher Stephen Matthews said after contracting COVID-19 and  missing three school days.

“Learning through pre-recorded videos is not ideal,” Matthews said. “Students can’t ask their teacher or neighbor a question, and paying attention to a video is harder than paying attention to a living, breathing human standing right in front of you.”   

“I believe the way the school has been handling positive tests is alright,” said a freshman student whose name is being withheld to protect their privacy. “It needs a little work, but I think sending students into quarantine right away is a good idea.”

“It’s better to be safe than sorry,” they added.

Many students may take other precautions, such as getting the booster vaccination, in order to continue to safely attend in-person school. Pali teachers and staff were required to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 15, 2021. However, this doesn’t apply to students until the fall semester of 2022.

Even with the constant changes and unpredictable circumstances that a lot of students and staff have experienced, many are remaining optimistic.

“The spring semester is already off to a much better start,” Matthews said.