CUSD secondary schools now have a plan for opening

by Mick Rhodes |

An enterprising songwriter might do well to jump on creating a counterpoint to “School’s Out,” Alice Cooper’s gleeful, evergreen 1972 anthem celebrating end of term rebellion.


“School’s … In,” perhaps?


Many Claremont families, and yes, students, are preparing happily for what will be the first day of school in about 13 months, with elementary level classes beginning April 12 and now secondary starting April 19.


“Honestly I cannot wait to hear the laughter of kids,” said Claremont Unified School District Interim Superintendent of Schools, Julie Olesniewicz. “I’ve said to several principals that once we have kids back, don’t be surprised if I just show up on campuses. We have to be socially distanced and whatnot, but even at arrival and dismissal, just to see kids on our campuses is going to be thrilling.”


On Monday, Los Angeles County moved into the red tier of California’s coronavirus risk level metric, which officially cleared the way for Claremont’s middle and high schools to reopen their doors.


The district announced March 12 it intends to move into phase two if its own phased reopening plan, with Claremont and San Antonio high schools and El Roble Intermediate School welcoming blended program students back Monday, April 12. CHAMP and CORE students will remain in their current programs.


“This tentative date still depends on a number of factors, such as continued approval for in-person instruction from the L.A. County Department of Public Health, successful negotiations of working conditions with our associations, and any unforeseen changes that may arise in the upcoming weeks,” Ms. Olesniewicz wrote in her email to families and district employees.


The negotiations with CUSD’s two unions should be complete in time for schools to reopen.


“I’m pretty sure that elementary is complete and just a couple of little things to work out with secondary,” Ms. Olesniewicz said. “I don’t see a whole lot of obstacles at the moment keeping us from moving forward.”


An informative dive into the district’s phase two operations is available at


The school days for middle and high school students in the blended program who will be returning to campuses will be radically different from any previous schedules. They will attend in-person school two days per week according to their assigned cohort, A or B. The other three days will be dedicated to “asynchronous,” or online learning. The labyrinthine schedule is available here:


Parents can check out the district’s Phase 2 Hybrid Learning Parent Guide at for more info.


Also brand new will be each school’s coronavirus mitigation procedures and requirements. Among them are social distancing, student and staff wearing masks, cleaning protocols, hand washing/sanitizing requirements, and other safety measures.


Among the most pressing concerns as the pandemic has caused further isolation for students, and newfound stress for parents and families, has been the mental health of all concerned. If all of this information only adds to the already all-pervasive anxiety around school during COVID times, CUSD has a website with multiple links to services and support at


Ms. Olesniewicz said secondary school parents and caregivers had been relatively silent since the April 12 reopening announcement.


“Honestly for me personally it’s been quiet,” she said. “So I don’t know. Maybe they’re reaching out to principals. I don’t know.”


And while many students, parents and caregivers are glad to hear campuses are reopening—albeit with a host of coronavirus mitigation controls—the interim superintendent acknowledged there are others that remain reticent to head back into classrooms.


“It’s been difficult because this is an impossible situation,” said Ms. Olesniewicz. “As much as we’d like to create situations that work for every family, it’s just not possible. It’s something every school district is encountering. We’re not unique.”


Just three months ago L.A. County was in the midst of a horrific coronavirus surge. Now we’re reopening schools. One naturally wonders what newfound freedoms in movement and access are on the horizon, and, of course, when schools will return to the “before times,” with full classrooms five days-a-week.


“There is zero guidance from the state and the county on that,” Ms. Olesniewicz said. “Obviously we keep asking. Now we’re in the red tier. We were told last week that we could be in orange tier as early as maybe three weeks from now. So our hopes are we going to be moving fairly quickly in these tier colors. But if you look at the guidance, right now for schools it doesn’t change from color to color. I think the state and county really aren’t any different than the schools are. They’ve tweaked and they’ve made modifications with every step along the way, and then we get our guidance. I just don’t think they’re quite ready to even look at that yet.”


“Some have asked, ‘When can be 100 percent back?’ and there is no guidance on that. Honestly, we are hoping and praying we are fully back to normal this fall, but we’ll be ready for anything.”


As the mid-April opening dates approach, the district will issue updates to students and families about schedules, cohorts, daycare, safety protocols, student drop-off and pickup, etc. 


“We appreciate your continued patience while our district works in accordance with state and local guidelines to reopen campuses to more students,” wrote Ms. Olesniewicz. “As our community prepares for the reopening of our school campuses, we expect that returning to in-person learning will bring relief, hope, as well as new challenges, as we adjust to a new school experience.”


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