WEEKLY MESSAGE | 12.19.20


Dear Larchmont Charter School Community,

As we head out on winter break, I wanted to send you a message of thanks. This has been a year like no other and I know it’s impacted each of us differently. While everyone’s life has been upended, some have lost loved ones, suffered illness, and lost livelihoods. Through it all, our community has lived out its mission to improve the world we inhabit.

Our staff stepped forward willing to do whatever was needed to reach every child and family – pivoting to teach online, serving up delicious meals, helping to get each kid a chromebook, connecting families with resources like counseling, and support with housing, food and more.


Students created and led peer mentoring programs, gift card, toy and Unicef drives alongside our families who immediately swung into action to help each other. Families donated grocery cards to help their fellow Larchmont community members.

Staff were given a small one time bonus through savings and fundraising and responded in truly inspiring Larchmont fashion. The Employee Advisory Group recommended creating an option for staff to opt-out of receiving the bonus and donate it to another staff member in need and likewise for staff to confidentially indicate if they’re in high need. This community is so strong.

This was also a year of firsts. Our students adapted to learning online and have shown incredible perseverance and resilience. Our staff learned to teach online, to hire staff online, to welcome new families to our school online, to have our first virtual assemblies and morning sings that warmed the heart, our first virtual parent conferences, and first graduation which was an incredible showcase and ode to our students. Our families stepped forward to have our first virtual gala, our first virtual Annual Giving Drive, and now our first virtual World Fair celebrating our vibrant diversity.

So while we end 2020 exhausted and filled with sadness for all the suffering around us, may we also take stock of this inspiring community and of all these impressive firsts, all that’s been accomplished, despite the challenges. Wishing you and your family a wonderful winter break.

Take good care,


Amy Held

REOPENING PLANNING UPDATE:


As you are seeing in the news, records are being broken on a weekly and even daily basis in terms of the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths. ICU capacity is also at dangerously low levels. LA County is currently under stay at home orders. Schools continue to be prohibited from opening beyond specialized services for not more than 25% of enrollment of high need students or TK-2 if they received the waiver. Schools will be permitted to reopen more broadly in hybrid fashion once LA County moves into the Red Tier when 7-day averages of cases are under 7 per 100,000 residents and COVID test positivity is under 8%. Cases are currently at 84.4 per 100,000 residents (42.4 adjusted rate for tier) and positivity is currently at 11.4%.


Larchmont is aiming to resume in-person assessments and launch our small hubs for in-person proctored distance learning for our highest-need students in mid to late January (contingent on the current COVID numbers dropping such that the stay at home order is lifted). We then plan to reopen one month from when LA County moves into the Red Tier under the plan that was approved over the summer (TK-2 back on campus either 4 half days or 2 full days and 3rd-12th grade on campus half a day a week for in-person community time). We are hearing that school employees are being prioritized in the early dissemination of the new vaccines.

Please know that the health and safety of our students and staff is our first priority. We have been making extensive preparations to reopen once permitted. Our team has purchased PPE supplies for all students and staff:

  • Additional handwashing and sanitizer

  • Facilities upgrades to filtration at all sites

  • Outdoor furniture and canopies to support outdoor classrooms

  • Sneeze guards for offices

  • Transparent carrols for student/staff desks

  • Signage has been placed

  • Policies and protocols have been drafted and are being continually updated

  • All County public health calls and trainings are being attended

  • Staff have been working in reopening workgroups

We are working to be ready to return to school. Part of that effort was surveying our community regarding your intentions. We have the results of that survey and they are as follows:


Families

  • 30% of families intend to stay in distance learning through the end of the school year

  • 20% intend to return as soon as possible even prior to LA moving to the red tier

  • 50% intend to return once LA County is in the red tier

  • 57% prefer 2 full days for TK-2

  • 43% prefer 4 half days for TK-2

  • 70% can get kids to either AM/PM session for TK-2

  • 75% can get kids to school ½ day/wk for 3-12

  • 90% willing to have kids COVID tested prior to return to school

Staff

  • 70%+ against waiver

  • 84% of TK-2, 58% of 3-6, 38% of teachers at 7-12, willing/able to return once in Red Tier

  • 70% non-teaching staff willing to return for small hubs/waiver prior to moving to Red Tier

  • 77% of non-teaching staff willing and able to return once in the Red Tier

  • 56% TK-2 staff prefer 2 days v. 44% prefer 4 days or have no preference

  • 54% of TK-2 staff open to simultaneous streaming to avoid shuffling classes; 39% in 3-6 grades and 27% in 7-12

In January we’ll be launching a joint reopening taskforce with both parent representatives and staff representatives from across our campuses and will share information about that when we return from break.


I want to thank families and teachers so much for all that you’re doing to partner to support student learning through this time. This time has been challenging. I’m grateful for your patience and support as this has gone on much longer than any of us anticipated. Thank you for all that you do to make Larchmont great.

Warmly,


Amy

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