Torrance schools won’t resume full-time until new school year – Daily Breeze
South Bay’s largest school district will not change course and will attempt to get its more than 20,000 students back to classrooms full-time for the remainder of the school year which ends in seven weeks, citing logistical challenges for force students, parents and teachers. to change their routines again.
The Torrance Unified School District School Board made the decision Monday night, April 26, at the end of a special marathon meeting that featured sometimes moving testimonies from parents seeking to salvage some sort of in-person educational experience from the disrupted school year.
Board chair Betty Lieu said she only came to the conclusion not to fully reopen late in the meeting after listening to the debate.
Torrance Unified, like many local school districts, has only recently resumed limited in-person classroom instruction, with much of the learning still being conducted remotely, after being forced to shut down last spring in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
A host of precautionary measures are in place to prevent disease transmission, including strict limits on class size and a minimum six-foot separation between desks, limiting the number of students that can be taught at a time.
Lieu said she called the special meeting after updated guidelines from the Los Angeles County Department of Health allowed the offices to be just three feet apart.
The district, she said, had always tried “aggressively” to reopen schools while simultaneously adhering to public health guidelines, so the county change deserved community discussion.
But, Lieu said, while theoretically possible, it was clear that the practicalities of doing it on short notice made the idea unfeasible.
“Based on the facts today, it is impossible to move forward full time,” she said.
“Our physical classroom for many high (and elementary) schools is just too small,” Lieu added. “I wish all of our students had gone back to school full time.”
Instead, the district will focus on a “robust” summer school program in an effort to help students who may have fallen behind in distance learning, officials said.
In-person graduation ceremonies and other end-of-school activities will also resume. The district is working to ensure that face-to-face learning begins as normally as possible at the start of the next school year, just before the Labor Day long weekend.
“With the new school year starting four months from today,” said Superintendent Tim Stowe, “there is a lot to do.”
TUSD’s decision follows that of the Los Angeles Unified School District while waiting to resume full-time in-person classes until the new school year.
Some speakers, however, expressed frustration that neighboring districts, albeit smaller, had resumed face-to-face teaching to a much greater extent. Others have spoken of their struggles to help teach their children while juggling homework during the coronavirus pandemic that is now a year long – and that matters.
A wide variety of groups within the district had worked together to agree on the steps taken so far to reopen the schools and officials said they shouldn’t or could do more without further negotiations.
And student and teacher representatives said all students and others are not yet fully immunized and the pandemic is still raging, indicating a recent widespread outbreak at a high school in Redondo Beach.
District officials, meanwhile, issued a note of hope that the worst educational consequences of the pandemic on students were behind them.
“Our children are doing pretty well, better than we expected,” said Kati Krumpe, director of studies.
“They are persistent,” she added, “and we are ready to plan their return this summer for what we think is a very solid summer program and prepare for a comeback in August.”