Pandemic surge postpones classroom return for Los Alamitos Unfied

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The superintendent of the Los Alamitos Unified School District announced Tuesday that a return to a hybrid schedule at Los Alamitos High School planned for Jan. 14 has been postponed.

“We had planned for LAHS students to return to in-person instruction later this week, but we have decided to keep LAHS on distance learning through Friday, January 22,” District Supt. Dr. Andrew Pulver announced in a memo to families Tuesday.

“We made this decision to ensure that LAHS students have no disruptions to their learning this close to the end of the first semester by needing to quarantine as a close contact,” said Pulver.

Moreover, Pulver said, “we also understand students have a heightened level of stress with final exams, and we hope to reduce this stress on our students by having them return in-person the week of January 25 to take their tests in the more natural environment of their classrooms.”

The schedule has been modified “to allow the fewest distractions,” he said.

Therefore, he said the schedule for finals week is the same one previously sent to all LAHS families. It is a modified schedule where students attend campus only two days with one cohort attending each day.

“Since the onset of COVID-19, we have been guided by infectious disease experts and agencies at the national, state and county level in deciding how to keep our students and staff safe while we meet our obligation as educators,” Pulver informed the parents.

“We closely monitor conditions and have followed — or exceeded — all expert guidance to ensure that our schools safely provide in-person instruction and meet the diverse needs of our students,” he added.

The superintendent said K-8 schools have remained open.

Pulver said all LAHS students will resume hybrid, in-person instruction at the start of second semester on Monday, February 1, 2021. Our elementary and middle schools will continue in the hybrid instructional format.

“This is an extraordinary community of students, teachers, support staff, administrators and families who have worked together to ensure that our students’ educational needs are met at the highest level.  We should all take pride in what we are accomplishing,” said Pulver.

“On behalf of our Board of Trustees and the entire Los Alamitos USD family, we want to extend heartfelt thanks to each of you for your patience, understanding, support, determination, and grit you have demonstrated in working as our partners through the COVID-19 pandemic,” he added.

Meanwhile, Gov. Gavin Newsom, citing the surge in Southern California, had announced on Monday that the stay-at-home order, with all of its conditions, would remain in place until further notice.

LAHS Biology teacher Drew Sells said he prefers keeping classes virtual for now. “I’m happy the District has made this decision and I’m hopeful they will extend the distance learning model until [coronavirus case] numbers come down at our hospitals,” he wrote in a text message after Dr. Pulver’s announcement was emailed to LAUSD families.

According to Sells, the decision to stay in distance learning at the high school comes after an internal poll of LAHS teachers conducted this week showed 78.5% of the 93 people polled indicated they would rather remain in remote learning until the “community positivity numbers come down.”

Local news reports show hospitals have been overwhelmed with patients after a record-breaking surge in cases amid the recent holiday season. According to the Orange County Health Care Agency, more than 2,200 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 at local hospitals as of Jan. 11. Among those hospitalized, 544 are in intensive care units (ICU). In Orange County, 2,120 people have died from COVID-19.

The LAUSD COVID-19 dashboard showed 21 confirmed cases among LAHS students and 3 among staff as of Jan. 11. The dashboard only lists active cases.