Palm Valley School in Rancho Mirage has been approved by the Riverside County and State Departments of Public Health to open for in-person instruction.
Palm Valley School began it's 2020-2021 school year virtually on Wednesday. The school plans to have grades one through five return to campus after Labor Day, on September 8.
“We’re very excited, I’m very excited. It’s good for our community, it's good for our families. We obviously have all the health protocols in place, the screenings, the cohorts, but we are excited to hear the sounds of the elementary school kids and hear the learning going on face-to-face,” said Dr. Steven Sherman, Head of School at Palm Valley.
Palm Valley uses a program called Hyflex, which Sherman says makes it easy for students to transition from online learning to in-person learning. So for those families who aren’t comfortable being back on campus just yet, they can stick to the virtual platform.
Palm Valley is the first Coachella Valley school to have their waiver for in-person instruction approved by state and county health officials. According to state guidelines, the waiver applies 6th grade and below. Palm Valley has decided to keep 6th grade virtual.
“Social and emotional learning is so important and forming an identity of who they are at those young formative ages, so it’s important that they’re around other peers, their age, and it’s important that they’re guided by a teacher, that’s in the classroom, that can really guide and mold and shape them, as well as teach them at that young level. As an older kid, there’s a little bit more of an identity, they kind of know a little bit better who they are and they can, kind of, navigate that virtual world a little bit better,” said Sherman.
This sentiment was echoed by a parent and Board Certified Family Physician in the school’s waiver application.
Dr. Erik Palmer’s statement reads in part: “The detriment of lack of emotional and social fulfillment might last a lifetime of psychological anguish.”
Sherman also says the school plans to host after school, socially distanced activities for grades six through twelve, to get them out of the house.
You can view Palm Valley's approved application with details of their plan to return to campus safely here.
Last week, Riverside County announced that schools would be able to start applying for waivers to reopen for in-person instruction due to meeting the threshold of daily cases.
Other local schools with applications pending approval include Desert Chapel Christian School and King's School in Palm Springs.
If Riverside County exits the state coronavirus monitoring list for 14 consecutive days, schools will be able to re-open for in-person instruction without needing an approved waiver.