Public Health Commends SPUSD’s Reopening Preparations

By Haley Sawyer
South Pasadena Review

The South Pasadena Unified School District Board of Education this week reviewed a site visit by the county public health department, highlighting the glowing reviews that emerged from the Jan. 7 evaluation.
The visit — which included two people from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s Acute Communicable Disease Control group — was held in preparation for SPUSD’s partial reopening scheduled for February.
“They thought that we did really well,” district nurse Abby Silver told the school board on Tuesday. “They had a lot of good things to say about everything we had in place and thought we did a really thorough job.”
As decided at a previous special board meeting, transitional kindergarten, kindergarten and special education students in preschool to 2nd grade will return to campus on Feb. 8, while 1st- and 2nd-graders will begin in-person instruction on Feb. 16.

The ACDC representatives and Silver, along with head of maintenance Alfredo Perez and a district COVID-19 task force representative visited Marengo, Arroyo Vista and Monterey Hills elementary schools throughout the day and met with principals to assess preparedness for a safe return to school after using virtual learning for the entirety of the school year due to the pandemic.
ACDC made sure that workplace policies and practices were posted around each school. District elementary schools have signage throughout the buildings that indicate personal protective equipment, or PPE, is required, and binders with the reopening plan are available at the front desk of each school.
There are compliance teams at the schools with plans for what to do if there is a positive test as well as an exposure plan for if a student begins to feel symptoms during the school day. All information on the plans will be shared with parents.
Distancing measures at the elementary schools were examined by ACDC as well. The schools display maximum occupancy signs for each room and have placed desks 6 feet apart or placed barriers in between.
There are designated, separate entrances for each grade to prevent overcrowding and each school has outdoor classroom areas with tables and chairs under a pavilion-like covering.
For infection control, there is an isolation room with bathroom access and appropriate PPE at each school.
“The bottom line is that when we are able to reopen, they and I feel like the schools have put really great measures in place for everybody to be safe, the students and the staff,” Silver said.
ACDC had minor suggestions, such as creating a line with distinct markers outside or inside restrooms where people can wait or closing off some sinks in bathrooms to prevent people from standing too close to each other.
School employees could also receive COVID-19 vaccinations in the near future, although it is unclear exactly when. California is in Phase 1A of vaccine distribution, meaning health-care workers and those living and working at skilled nursing facilities are currently receiving vaccinations.
Education workers are in Phase 1B, Tier 1, which directly follows Phase 1A.
The SPUSD website will also feature a COVID-19 dashboard on the “school reopening” tab that will show how many positive cases are at each site and how many people, on average, are currently at each site.
The district’s COVID-19 task force will continue to meet and continuously make changes based on guidelines from the county and state.