William S. Hart Union High School District

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Messages from the Superintendent

Good evening,

 

I’m writing tonight to share some recent news on changes to State and County health orders that will affect our schools.

 

The California Department of Public Health recently released an update to their COVID protocols. A key change in the guidance involves how the State determines close contacts. The California Department of Public Health’s updated guidance on close contacts can be found HERE.

 

Close Contacts

 

Previously, to be considered a “close contact,” an individual had to be within 6 feet of a known positive case for a period of 15 minutes or more. The revised guidelines now say that an individual is considered a “close contact” if they are within the same shared airspace with a known positive case for 15 minutes or more. Therefore, under the new guidance, everyone in a classroom is considered a “close contact” – regardless of distance – if they share the same airspace for 15 minutes or more.

 

Masking, Testing

 

Under the new guidance, the State strongly recommends that close contact students and staff wear masks for a period of 10 days following an exposure (regardless of vaccination status). The State also strongly recommends that close contact students and staff test on day 3-5 to determine if they are positive (regardless of vaccination status.)

 

Coronavirus Cases on the Rise

 

Coronavirus cases are on the rise and we are seeing this reflected in increased rates of positivity for both students and staff.  Updated Hart District data can be found on our COVID-19 Dashboard.  These increases are also being reported in LA County, as reflected in this recent LA Times article.

 

Los Angeles County

 

Citing these increasing numbers, Dr. Ferrer confirmed last week that LA County will be taking a more restrictive stance than the California Department of Public Health. Each of the State recommended actions shared above will now be required under Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s revised order. The revised health order can be found HERE.

 

Although the health order was published earlier, school districts have been given until Wednesday, May 4, 2022, before it is expected to be fully implemented.  The Hart District has already begun implementing these expectations.   Some of our families have already received mass communications alerting them that their child is considered a close contact.  These letters include instructions on how to fulfill the new masking and testing requirements.

 

We recognize that there are strong opinions within our community about these health orders and their related requirements.  As a public school district, it is our responsibility to listen respectfully to all sides of this issue while implementing required protocols.  We encourage students, staff and families to take appropriate precautions to ensure we can continue moving forward toward a healthy and successful conclusion to the school year.

 

Nevertheless, while we respect and will comply with County health orders, it is important to note that Hart District leadership continues to question the decision of the LA County Department of Public Health to adopt a more restrictive stance than the State of California.  The Hart District Governing Board has already submitted two letters to elected officials asking that the County align with the State and requesting that locally elected boards be given the flexibility to adjust to local conditions.  That conversation and those requests continue with the news of these recent changes. 

 

Those who would like to share their opinion on the public health orders (regardless of perspective) are encouraged to contact the public officials who have the authority to influence these policies.

 

Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors:            (213) 974-1411

Kathryn Barger, Supervisor, Fifth District:              (213) 974-5555

LA County Department of Public Health:               (213) 240-8117

 

As always, we will do our best to keep you updated to any additional changes to the public health orders.

 

Sincerely,

Mike Kuhlman

Superintendent

William S. Hart Union High School District

Good afternoon Hart District family,
 
I am writing this afternoon to share news about the Governor’s recent announcement about school mask mandates.
 
Citing recent declines in Omicron cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, the Governor’s Office and the California Department of Public Health have announced that the statewide indoor masking requirement will sunset at the conclusion of the school day on March 11, 2022.  This means that starting March 12, the State will no longer require indoor masking for either students or staff regardless of vaccination status.  
 
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health also sent out a message today that stated the following:
 
“LA County Public Health will align school masking measures with the state and shift to strongly recommending indoor masking requirements at childcare sites and K-12 schools beginning March 12”
 
Officials were careful to emphasize that this change may be revisited - and some protections may be reinstituted - if we confront another surge or encounter a worrisome new variant.  Nevertheless, we welcome today’s news as it comes as a confirmation that State officials believe we have reached a point where it is safe for students and staff to remove their masks on March 12.
 
Since the start of the pandemic, the Hart District has implemented all State and County masking requirements.  Now that State and the County requirements are revised and aligned, I can confirm that the Hart District will make masking optional starting on March 12.
 
The Hart District Governing Board and I appreciate our community’s patience with regard to our ongoing efforts to keep our schools open and safe for our students and staff.
 
Sincerely,
 
Mike Kuhlman                  
Superintendent
William S. Hart Union High School District
Good evening.  
 
This is Superintendent Mike Kuhlman with some important information for Hart District families and staff.  Beginning Tuesday Feb. 22, 2022, the Hart District will no longer send the daily COVID-19 symptom/exposure email for staff and students.  While this was a requirement by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health when these daily emails started, it is no longer a requirement.
 
We encourage staff and students to continue to monitor their health and to stay home if they are sick or experiencing any symptoms.  Similarly, if you discover you have been a close contact of someone with COVID-19, you should follow the County guidance on quarantining.
 
Students should continue to present their school ID card when they enter campus each day.
 
Thank you and have a nice evening.
 
Sincerely,
 
Mike Kuhlman
Superintendent
Dear Hart District Families:
 
This email is intended to help clarify recent news from State and County health professionals.  Both the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) have provided updates on indoor and outdoor masking requirements. 
 
State Guidance
As you are likely already aware, California will end its indoor masking requirement on Wednesday, February 16, for vaccinated individuals in indoor venues such as restaurants, businesses, etc.  According to the State’s new guidance, unvaccinated individuals are supposed to continue wearing their masks indoors.  This change in State policy does not yet apply to schools.  K-12 Districts must continue to mask indoors for the time being.
 
County Guidance
The County has the authority to be more restrictive than the State.  The LACDPH and Director Barbara Ferrer have chosen a more restrictive path for restaurants, businesses, etc.  Dr. Ferrer has stated that LA will not remove its indoor mask requirement for at least a couple more weeks.  To repeat, the County’s decision here does not apply to schools.  Both the State and the County require that masks must continue to be worn indoors while at school or in District facilities.
 
K-12 Schools
Indoor Masking
The CDPH has left the indoor masking requirement for schools in place for the time being.  In a news conference yesterday, Dr. Mark Ghaly, the State’s top health official, said that the indoor masking requirement for schools will be revaluated on February 28.  At that time, CDPH promised a new timeline for when indoor masking at schools will move from a requirement to a recommendation.  Whenever this occurs, the County will then have to determine whether LACDPH will choose to align – or choose to be more restrictive – than the State of California.
 
Outdoor Masking
Dr. Barbara Ferrer from the LACDPH told the County Board of Supervisors today that the outdoor mask mandate will be lifted tomorrow, Wednesday, February 16.   Hart District students will no longer be required to wear masks outdoors starting tomorrow morning.  We are currently asking for clarification on how this impacts youth sports protocols.
 
I recognize that there are strong opinions within our community about these public health orders and their related requirements.  The images of public officials, celebrities, and fans at the football games held in Los Angeles County the last two weeks have contributed to some of the very strong emotions people are feeling about this topic. Those of us charged with implementing public health protocols share your frustration over the apparent lack of consistency in the application of the rules.  Nevertheless, as a public-school district, it is our responsibility to listen respectfully to all sides of this issue while implementing required protocols.
 
Those who would like to share their opinion on the public health orders that affect our students and our schools are encouraged to contact the public officials who have the authority to influence these public policies.
California Governor Gavin Newsom:                      (916) 445-2841
California Department of Public Health:                 (916) 558-1784
Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors:            (213) 974-1411
Kathryn Barger, Supervisor, Fifth District:              (213) 974-5555
LA County Department of Public Health:                (213) 240-8117
 
As always, we will do our best to keep you updated to any additional changes to the public health orders.
 
Sincerely,
 
Mike Kuhlman
Superintendent
William S. Hart Union High School District

Good evening Hart District Families,

 

I’m writing today to share an update on the promised delivery of at-home COVID tests from the State of California.  Our District’s allotment of tests arrived in bulk to our warehouse yesterday afternoon. We are now in the process of breaking down this shipment into the appropriate allotments for each school site.  We are expecting to have deliveries to all sites completed by the end of this week.

 

The Hart District will be deploying the State/County-supplied at-home rapid test kits in a manner that is consistent with guidance from the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE).  These tests will be used:

“. . . as part of test-to-stay activities or sent home with students for close contacts and positive cases who are required to isolate and quarantine for use in potential release from quarantine and isolation per the updated LACDPH School Exposure Management requirements.” (LACOE FYI Bulletin, Jan. 7, 2022)

 

Using the tests in this fashion will help the Hart District meet the new “test-to-stay” protocols recently implemented by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH).  The County’s latest COVID protocols now require students determined to be close contacts to test negative in order to remain in class.   While the new protocols shorten the period of isolation for COVID positive students from 10 to 5 days, this is only possible if they test negative on or after day 5.

 

These tests can therefore be sent home with students identified as close contacts and/or COVID positive students and used as tools to help expedite their return to the classroom.

 

Using these tests to support the “test to stay” protocols means that the Hart District will not be distributing testing kits to every household at one time.  However, we do recognize that some families may want to have access to an at-home test to complete their own COVID screening. Parents interested in obtaining one free at-home test (per student) can pick it up at their school site starting next week (Tuesday January 18.)  Individual school sites will share details for when and where to obtain a test.

 

All things considered, it was a positive start to the second semester.  Thank you for your continued support.

 

Best regards,

Mike Kuhlman

Superintendent

Good afternoon Hart District families,

I hope you all have been able to enjoy a safe and restful holiday season with friends and family. 

As we look forward to the start of the spring semester, we do so with an understanding that the Omicron surge will bring fresh challenges to the start of the new year.  Over the last several days, we have received new guidance from the State of California and from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.  This communication is intended to summarize several new options, recommendations, and requirements.

Free At-Home Testing Options

The State of California has publicly declared that they will be making at-home testing kits available for every student who is interested in accessing this resource.  We had originally been told that these tests would be delivered to our district this week.  Today we learned that the tests have been delayed.

Stay tuned for updates and a distribution plan once we receive confirmation from the Los Angeles County Office of Education.  Regardless of when they are delivered, please note that no one is required to pick up and/or use these at-home tests. They are being made available as an optional resource.

As always, students who test positive, who have been in close contact with a positive case, or who develop symptoms should remain at home and contact their school site.

Isolation and Quarantine Requirements

The LA County Public Health Order was revised on December 31, 2021.  The revision makes changes to Isolation requirements (for those testing positive) and Quarantine requirements (for those who are close contacts with known positives).  In certain circumstances the period of Isolation or Quarantine can be reduced from 10 days to 5 days.  However, additional testing requirements have been added.

Isolation

If you have COVID-19, you must self-isolate regardless of vaccination status, previous infection, or lack of symptoms.  Everyone with COVID-19 must isolate for at least 5 days. How long you have to isolate depends on whether you have symptoms and if you get a negative follow-up viral test on day 5 or later.  For more information on LACDPH isolation requirements, go HERE.

Quarantine

California’s “modified quarantine” rule states that vaccinated students who are close contacts can remain in class during the period of their quarantine as long as they are asymptomatic.  Unvaccinated students must remain at home during the period of their quarantine.  The revised health order now requires all quarantined students to be tested following exposure, regardless of vaccination status.  For more information on LACDPH quarantine requirements, go HERE.

Recommendations for Types of Masks Worn by Students

The revised Public Health Order strongly recommends that students opt to wear well-fitting masks that are made of “multiple layers of non-woven material with a nose wire.”  In other words, the County is discouraging students from wearing cloth masks.  Instead, they are recommending surgical masks (think disposable doctors’ paper face masks) or a higher level personal protective equipment.  For more information on LACDPH masking recommendations for students, go HERE.

Outdoor Masking Requirements

The revised Public Health Order now requires masking outdoors “where physical distancing is not feasible, except while eating or drinking.”  We have asked all school sites to make this announcement daily and will call for supervisors to circulate and remind students during outdoor breaks.  Signage will be posted in external areas to highlight the new requirements.  For more information on LACDPH outdoor masking requirements, go HERE.

We appreciate your patience as we work to implement these modified policies and procedures.  We hope that you can take confidence in knowing that Hart District staff have been working diligently to ensure that students and staff can return safely to the classroom on January 10.

Thank you, and I wish you a peaceful and healthy remainder to your winter break.

Sincerely,

Mike Kuhlman

Superintendent

Greetings Hart District Parents,

Recently I've found myself repeating the familiar phrase: "Let's Keep The Main Thing - The Main Thing."

By this I mean that we need to take the necessary steps to preserve the ability for students to continue meeting safely with teachers. 

Given the trajectory of the Delta variant, we've made the decision to return to a virtual format for this year's Back to School Night.  By doing so, we eliminate non-essential group gatherings across the District that could potentially contribute to the spread of the virus.  

Please note that the date for our Back to School Nights across the District (except for Bowman) will move to September 9.

Teachers from across the District will be preparing personalized messages for parents - just like we did last year.  Our Back to School Night virtual activities will debut on September 9th, but will remain accessible for parents after the fact. 

Last year's virtual BTSN included some outstanding and creative offerings for parents.  I have no doubt we will do the same this year.  

Thank you for your flexibility as we make decisions to “Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing.”

Mike Kuhlman
Superintendent
William S. Hart Union High School District

Good evening,

This is Superintendent Mike Kuhlman calling to welcome students back to the Hart District. I hope you too are truly looking forward to start of classes tomorrow morning.

Over the last few weeks I have visited every school site within the District to gauge our readiness for the for the start of the new semester. Because of these visits – even as we face new challenges with the Delta variant – I believe we have the pieces in place for the start of an outstanding school year.

I can assure you that all of our school sites have been working hard to finalize plans to welcome back teachers and students to a SAFE educational environment. Central to our plans, as you are aware, is the requirement that everyone must wear a mask while indoors and on-campus.

Last week I met with all administrators and encouraged them to “keep their eye on the ball” as they say, as we launch this new school year. By this, I explained that we need to maintain our priority of focus on getting students safely back into the classroom and engaged with healthy junior high and high school activities. Let’s acknowledge that indoor masking may not be popular for some, but I respectfully ask that everyone help us implement this requirement with a minimum of disruption so that we can maintain our focus – and begin the important work of educating students.

Please note that school sites may be prompting students to show their masks upon entry to each campus. This is not intended to provoke confrontation, but rather to help answer questions and provide complementary masks if they are lost or forgotten. We hope that this friendly gesture will address student concerns prior to the start of class.
Whether your child will be joining us in-person, or through independent study, we are all eager to get back to the business of helping students prepare for their future. With recent COVID news, I can assure you that we will confront new challenges in the weeks ahead. Thank you in advance for your continued patience - and for your ongoing assistance – as we adapt to meet the need of the moment.

I wish you a great evening, and we look forward to seeing your students in the morning.
 
Mike Kuhlman
Superintendent
William S. Hart Union High School District

Good evening Hart District families,

 

I’m writing to share the good news that we are scheduled to fully reintroduce in-person learning on August 10.  We also look forward to the full restoration of student athletics and activities. All Hart District schools are hard at work preparing to welcome students back to campus.  Classes will be conducted without a requirement for social distancing.  We are eager to get things started soon!

 

Indoor Masking Requirement

State and County officials recently ruled that masks will be required for all individuals while inside buildings on campuses.  Masks are recommended but not required while outside.

 

We recognize that the issue of masking is a topic of great concern for many families in our community.  Given the strong interest in this subject, it’s important to understand who makes the rules when it comes to masking requirements.

 

Who Makes the Masking Rules?

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is a national advisory group that provides guidance on issues of public health.  The CDC does not issue public health mandates.  Rather, they issue recommendations that are used by California regulatory agencies to craft the rules for local school districts.  CDC recommendations on masking can be found HERE and are summarized by the following quote:

"Masks should be worn indoors by all individuals (age 2 and older) who are not fully vaccinated. Consistent and correct mask use by people who are not fully vaccinated is especially important indoors and in crowded settings, when physical distancing cannot be maintained."

 

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is a regulatory agency that has taken a stance that is more restrictive than the recommendations of the CDC.  CDPH calls for universal masking indoors on school campuses.  Unlike the CDC’s recommendation, this is a requirement for California public schools. CDPH requirements on masking can be found HERE and are summarized by the following quotes:

"Masks are optional outdoors for all in K-12 school settings."

"K-12 students are required to mask indoors."

"Adults in K-12 school settings are required to mask when sharing indoor spaces with students."

 

While the LA County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) must comply with CDPH mandates it can also enact more restrictive requirements if necessary.  Currently LA County requirements align with state mandates.  LACDPH requirements on masking can be found HERE and are summarized by the following quote:

"Anyone entering school buildings or transports (school buses as well as school buildings) who has contact with others (students, parents, or other employees) is required to wear a face mask."

 

Local school boards and district staff do not have the authority to defy the orders of our State and County regulatory agencies.  We recognize that there are some who are strongly opposed to the continuance of this requirement.  We respect the fact that there are people on all sides of this issue.  Nevertheless, we must adhere to the current masking requirements as established by State and County regulatory agencies.

 

Independent Study Alternative

If your family desires an alternative independent study option, the Hart District offers access to our award-winning Learning Post Academy (LPA).

You can learn more about LPA through a video introduction located HERE.

You can register HERE for an informational meeting on LPA scheduled for July 29th at 9:30 am. 

You can fill out an application to enroll at LPA by going HERE.

______________________________________________________________________________

As we embrace these measures to keep our community safe, we acknowledge that these mandated restrictions will cause frustrations and inconvenience for some. While I regret this fact, I’m encouraged to reflect on the advice of the great John Wooden who wrote:

"Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out."

We hope you will join us in this opportunity to make the best of this new start.

 

Sincerely,

Mike Kuhlman
Superintendent
William S. Hart Union High School District

Mr. Kuhlman discusses the return to campus on March 29 here.

Good Evening Hart District Families,

At our Governing Board Meeting this Wednesday we discussed a number of issues related to reopening for in-person learning.  The Governing Board heard updates on the following topics:

                Criteria for Reopening

                Adjusted Case Rate Trends

                CDC Recommendation

                Santa Clarita In-Person Learning

                Case Studies

                Reopening Timeline

Please note that it is looking increasingly likely that March 29 will be a date for a potential return to in-person blended learning. We also shared an overview of what Blended Learning will look like when we return.

If you are interested in hearing more about reopening for in-person learning, click HERE (the presentation begins at 1:18:50)

 

Details of the Blended Learning Plan can be found here. Details of the Online Only Plan can be found here.

 

Best regards,

Mike Kuhlman

Superintendent

Good Morning Hart District Families,
At our Governing Board Meeting last Wednesday we discussed a number of issues related to COVID-19 and school reopening.  The Governing Board heard updates on the following topics:
Criteria for Reopening
Reopening Criteria for Different Grade Levels
Case Rate Trends in LA County
Potential Reopening Timelines
Vaccinations for Educators
Graduation

If you are interested in hearing the latest on these issues, you can view the presentation here. If you would like to review the entire Board Meeting you can go here.

At our next Governing Board Meeting, we will be revisiting the reopening plan that we finalized last fall.  We hope you can join us.

Best regards,
Mike Kuhlman
Superintendent

Good evening Hart District families,

I’m writing tonight to provide an update on our plans for graduation this school year.  Those of us charged with preparing this annual right-of-passage fully recognize the importance of this special event for students and families.  We are committed to pursuing some form of an in-person graduation ceremony IF we are allowed to do so under State and County health guidelines. 

To that end, we have reached out to the County Health Department to ask for guidance on what will be allowed for graduation.  Three separate times we have been told that, “it depends upon COVID rates as we approach graduation.”  This lack of specificity has hampered our ability to communicate effectively with families.

Because we don’t want to sit back passively and wait, we have convened a committee of District leaders to prepare a proposed list of "acceptable" activities that could be tied to the colored tier levels on the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy.  Once we complete the plan, we will propose our ideas to the Health Department.  Our hope is that – if these proposals are accepted – we can communicate what options parents can realistically expect within each colored tier. 

While we are still hoping for an in-person event, we have authorized our video programs to begin planning a virtual graduation video.  The start of this process should not be interpreted as an indication that we have abandoned an in-person graduation.  Rather, we are starting now because it takes time to put-together a high-quality video remembrance. 

Please stay tuned for more information about graduation options in the coming weeks.  I’m optimistic that if COVID rates continue to fall, we will be able to offer some form of in-person option for students and families.

Sincerely,

Mike Kuhlman
Superintendent

Mr. Kuhlman discusses county recommendations for a temporary pause to in-person instruction and activities for the month of January here.

Good afternoon Hart District families,

I hope you all had a safe and restful Holiday season. 

I’m writing today to share news about the start of the second semester.  As you are all aware, we are in the midst of a surge in COVID transmissions throughout the Southern California community.  We’ve been monitoring this situation closely over the Holiday break to ensure that we adhere closely to the requirements of State and County health orders.  Because of this concern, we recently empowered our District Administration to allow increased flexibility for staff to work remotely - when it is possible to do so - during the period of the expanded stay at home order.  This accommodation was not made because we believe it is inherently unsafe to step foot onto our sites, but rather as an added measure to increase social distancing and to reduce the total number of people personally interacting on a daily basis.

Yesterday I participated in a teleconference with Dr. Robert Gilchick from the LA County Department of Public Health and the superintendents of over 80 Districts through LA County to discuss the start of instruction in the midst of this surge.  Dr. Gilchick, who is Dr. Barbara Ferrer’s associate, shared that the requirements of the county safer at home order have not significantly changed as they apply to schools.  This means that in-person instruction with small cohorts of students - and athletic conditioning - are allowed to continue at this time.  Having said that, Dr. Gilchick shared that they are recommending that Districts take action to limit in-person activity on campus to those students who need specialized support.  Examples would include Special Education students, homeless/foster students and English Learners.   Dr. Ferrer was quoted in an LA Times article Thursday saying the same thing.

With that in mind, I’m writing to confirm that we will proceed as scheduled for Monday, January 11, with our plan to provide support to our small cohorts of students throughout the District.  It’s worth noting that this course of action is consistent with the plans for our four feeder Districts who are all scheduled to continue in-person with their neediest students.  However, we have made the decision to temporarily halt all in-person athletic conditioning as recommended by Dr. Ferrer/Dr. Gilchick.

I understand the pressure our public health officials are under in their efforts to keep people safe.  Having said that, I would have preferred if this recommendation could have been shared with us earlier than the last day of winter break.  Nevertheless, I understand and can appreciate the importance of these issues for students, staff and families.  Therefore, we will be scheduling a Special Board Meeting next Wednesday, January 13, at 7:00 pm to provide time for the Governing Board to consider the question of whether additional temporary restrictions to in-person instruction are called for.  This will provide time for the Governing Board to carefully monitor conditions on our campuses and in our community and make appropriate decisions based upon that information.

In the meantime, I can’t overemphasize how important it is for us all to wear a face-covering at all times, remain six-feet away from others when feasible, and to wash your hands frequently throughout the day.  Doing so will help us dampen this surge and hasten our ability to return to school safely with students in classrooms. 

Thank you,

Mike Kuhlman
Superintendent
Mr. Kuhlman and Assistant Superintendent Kathy Hunter discuss what to expect for the start of school on Tuesday, August 11. Watch the SCVTV Community Corner interview here.
 
Today Governor Newsom announced new expectations for the reopening of schools.  The Governor's statement indicates that the Hart District should begin classes on August 11 in an online format.
 
While today's announcements will necessitate time to digest the specifics, I want to be clear that the Board's decision on Wednesday is consistent with these latest guidelines from the State - at least in terms of our immediate next steps for online learning.
 
Stay tuned for more information.  We will push out specific clarifications next week.