Newhall School District begins reopening elementary schools

NEWHALL, Calif. (KABC) -- Some elementary school students in the Newhall School District returned to the classroom Monday for the first time in nearly a year.

All 10 of the elementary schools in the district reopened.

Transitional kindergarten and kindergarten students returned to Newhall Elementary School in the Santa Clarita Valley, with 66 students returning to campus. First and second graders are heading back to the classroom on Wednesday. On March 3, third through sixth graders will be allowed back at school.

"We're so grateful that we're seeing the light at the end of the tunnel finally," said Jacke Tapia, principal of Newhall Elementary.

The district's superintendent said teachers, administrators and parents began meeting weekly last spring to prepare for school reopenings.

"We were ready to launch in January, and all these targets kept shifting and shifting. That's been the greatest challenge," said Superintendent Jeff Pelzel.

L.A. County reached the state's COVID-19 case threshold last Monday, freeing schools to reopen if they follow safety rules.

The Newhall School District created the following guidelines for schools:

  • Students on a hybrid schedule, splitting time between home and school;

  • No more than 14 children in a classroom;


  • Desks are physically distanced;

  • Parents must pre-screen their students for COVID-19 symptoms using the Square app;

  • Students and staff are required to wear a face mask;

  • Students are asked to bring refillable water bottles;

  • Different entrance and exit plans are being implemented;

  • Only two students are allowed in restrooms at one time;

  • Rooms will be cleaned between sessions


Not all school districts have embraced the option to reopen, including the Los Angeles Unified School District. LAUSD administrators and the teachers union are advocating for them to stay closed until teachers can be vaccinated.

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Some parents groups have been holding protests, including a caravan that drove around downtown Los Angeles, and now the Zoom blackout planned Monday.

Meanwhile, California will soon be setting aside 10% of all of the first-round vaccine doses it receives specifically for teachers, educators and childcare workers, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Friday.

The change will start on March 1, Newsom said, with a beginning baseline of at least 75,000 doses a week. It's part of an effort to move schools closer to resuming in-person learning.

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