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La Cañada public school closure extended to March 27, online classes start Tuesday

In the second emergency meeting within a 24-hour period, LCUSD officials Friday afternoon extended the physical closure of schools, to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, to March 27 under a recommendation from the county.
In the second emergency meeting within a 24-hour period, LCUSD officials Friday afternoon extended the physical closure of schools, to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, to March 27 under a recommendation from the county.
(Sara Cardine)

In their second emergency meeting within a 24-hour period, La Cañada Unified School Board members Friday voted unanimously to extend the closure of all La Cañada public schools through March 27 and announced online lessons would begin next Tuesday.

LCUSD Supt. Wendy Sinnette explained the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) convened a teleconference Friday morning among superintendents from 80 districts throughout the county and recommended a two-week shutdown of physical campuses starting Monday.

“LACOE indicated it is highly likely that additional weeks of school closure may occur, but that this two-week period provides an additional closure time to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus and … support a communitywide flattening of the infection curve,” Sinnette said.

La Cañada Unified officials decided in an emergency meeting Thursday evening to close schools as of Friday to allow teachers to begin drafting a plan for switching instruction to online platforms.

Sinnette reported at Friday afternoon’s meeting teachers and staff immediately rose to the challenge.

“They were professional, gracious and we are seeing outstanding efforts come forward from our teachers and our staff to ensure distance learning opportunities for all of our students.”

Some 60 grab-and-go lunches were distributed at La Cañada High School to students in the district’s free and reduced lunch program, and special education teachers were working to make sure children with special needs were receiving therapy and lessons in accordance with their Individualized Learning Plans.

Sinnette confirmed LCUSD has received an emergency waiver through the California Department of Education that allows the district to collect compensation for lost attendance accrued during the closure period, an amount that equates to nearly $1 million per week.

At this point, superintendents are being told districts will not have to add makeup days to the end of the school year, but that could change in coming weeks.

Although attendance will not be taken throughout the online learning period, teachers are communicating their expectations of students and have begun sending assignments and schedules by email.

“What’s happening in the continued learning process is nothing short of extraordinary,” said board member Ellen Multari. “Our students are being extremely well-served, despite all the chaos.”

Board members will convene a third emergency meeting the week of March 23 to provide a status update on the novel coronavirus and determine whether to further extend the closure of physical campuses.

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