The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

Coronavirus Live Updates


For a case map tracking the spread of COVID-19, click here.

Update: May 20, 12:02 p.m.

School seeks clarification from Public Health Department regarding drive-through graduation

Despite the recently issued Los Angeles County Department of Public Health guidelines warning against drive-in graduation ceremonies, President Rick Commons stated in an email to the senior class that current plans for the June 5 car procession will not be changed unless absolutely necessary, as mandated by the Public Health Department.

“We are in the process of seeking clarification of these guidelines in the hope that our current plans for June 5—to honor the HW Class of 2020 with a vehicle parade and individual diploma presentations—might be able to proceed,” Commons said in an email. “We believe that our current plans can keep everyone at a safe distance while celebrating each member of the class, and we will not alter those plans unless we absolutely must.”

Commons discusses upcoming fall semester

In another email sent out by Commons on May 15, Commons said that the school has developed a task force to tackle the variety of issues that accompanies school operations in the fall semester. Commons stated that the school has been considering many possible options in regards to the upcoming academic semester.

 “At one end of the spectrum is the possibility of school remaining online under an extended stay-at-home order,” Commons said in an email. “At the other end is a return to full campus operations with strict health and safety precautions in effect.”

Additionally, the email also said that the school is also considering the possibility of both online and on-campus experiences. Regardless of whatever happens, Commons stated that the safety of the HW community will be their top priority.

“In every facet of our planning, our top priorities will be the safety of the children and adults in our community and the quality of the HW student experience,” Commons said.


Update: May 1, 9:55 a.m.

Campus to remain closed for rest of academic year

In an email to families and faculty, President Rick Commons announced that campus will not reopen for the remainder of the school year in order to prioritize the community’s safety and follow public health guidelines.  Online education will continue through June, when final exams will be administered remotely.  In place of the traditional graduation ceremony, the Class of 2020 will take part in a commemorative vehicle procession June 5.

Online gatherings planned

Commons also stated that the school was working with HW Parents to plan several events during the week of June 1. These plans include seniors and their families coming to school on June 5 to be recognized for their academic accomplishments. In order to practice safe social distancing, seniors will be recognized for their achievements one at a time. There will also be a vehicle procession and other online events during the week of June 1. More details will be provided next week. 


Update: April 13, 8:32 p.m.

LAUSD to remain closed for rest of year, no failing grades

According to Superintendent Austin Beutner’s address to the community this morning, Los Angeles Unified School District schools and campuses will remain closed for the rest of the school year. In addition, Beutner announced that no student would receive a failing grade on their spring report card this year. Academic courses will continue online through the summer for LAUSD students and students will not be marked down for not having specific resources and services to complete their classes.


Update: April 10, 10:39 a.m.

Graduation delayed, school resumes online

President Rick Commons announced that the school plans to delay graduation, for months if necessary, if the ceremony cannot be held in-person June 5, its originally scheduled date.  Information regarding other ceremonies, such as the Awards Assembly and Cum Laude Induction will be shared soon, Commons said. Although the school has not yet decided whether campus will reopen this year, online learning will likely remain in place for the remainder of the quarter.


Update: April 6, 12:31 p.m.

Online school resumes after break

 In an email sent out this morning, Head of Upper School Laura Ross stated that online classes will be resuming as scheduled on April 13. The email also included a slightly altered school schedule. Instead of starting at 9 a.m., classes will now begin at 9:30 a.m. In addition, the lunch period has now been extended from 45 minutes to one hour. Lastly, there are periods of time now dedicated to office hours. This would allow any students who might need extra help to talk with their teachers during the school day. 

Professional day added

The email also stated that an additional professional day will be added to the calendar to give teachers extra time to plan for the upcoming fall semester. This date is Friday, April 24.


Update: April 3, 8:31 p.m.

Decision to close campus for rest of year uncertain

President Rick Commons stated in an email sent out to students and parents that, if at all, a return to campus will not occur until May at the earliest.  A final decision has not yet been made.

Economic assistance provided by school

Commons also said that financial assistance would be provided to members of the school’s community who are in need.

“I am proud to say that Harvard-Westlake is not only providing extra assistance to our employees and school families who are most in need; we are also protecting our coaches, cafeteria workers, security personnel, bus drivers, and other long-standing vendors,” Commons said.

The school will also donate its supplies of masks, gloves and sanitizer to local hospitals, and paper products and trash bags to homeless shelters. 

Online courses provided

Lastly, Commons said that he encouraged all families to take part in the online enrichment opportunities that the school has to offer. These courses included a wide variety of subjects, such as Zoomba, The Genetics of Covid-19, Shakespeare’s Henry V and World War II military strategy and diplomacy.


Update: March 27, 4:12 p.m.

People in school community test positive for COVID-19

According to an email sent out by President Rick Commons, several people in the school’s community have tested positive for the coronavirus. Commons also stated that the public health authorities have asked members of the school to update Community Health Officer Milo Sini with any information regarding confirmed positive cases.

The email also touched upon “reports about verbal and physical acts of hate against people from Asian countries or of Asian heritage.” Commons said that although no such acts have been reported in the school’s community, these gestures should “serve as a reminder to us all to live by our values and actively care for one another, supporting especially members of Asian and Asian American communities during this time.”

Courses provided over spring break

During spring break, students will be able to attend classes hosted by Harvard Westlake teachers. Students at the middle school can check the bulletin for a schedule of activities that will be posted daily. Students at the upper school will be hearing shortly from their prefects, who have planned a variety of recreational activities. Any important updates will be posted on the prefect instagram, @prefectagram. 


Update: March 20, 11:16 a.m.

Online learning extended to after spring break

In an email sent out Friday, President Rick Commons announced that students will be unable to attend normal classes on campus immediately after spring break.

“We have not ruled out returning to school this spring,” Commons said.  “Based on the orders from state and local authorities, we have ruled out returning to school right after spring break.”

While online instruction is planned to continue in April, students will still enjoy the regularly scheduled spring break from March 28 to April 12. The school also plans to offer optional online academic programs that students may attend during this time.

Commons also asked that any member of the community who contracts COVID-19 confidentially provide their health and COVID-19 testing information to Community Health Officer Milo Sini.

As of now, employees and teachers can still access the school campus, but may be unable to do so within the upcoming weeks. Teachers should stay home as much as they can and should adhere to the guidelines from Mayor Eric Garcetti’s “Safer at Home” order, Commons said in the email.


Update: March 13, 1:06 p.m.

Online learning schedule announced

Head of Upper School Laura Ross announced details regarding online learning as well as the daily schedule for March 16 to 27 in an email to students and parents. Each class that normally meets four times per cycle will be held via Zoom video conference for 60 minutes every other day. Periods one, three, five and seven will meet on the first of a two-day cycle, while periods two, four, six and eight will meet on the second.  There will be no “x” periods or doubles.  Fifteen-minute breaks between classes and buffer periods before and after the school day will allow students to speak with teachers, deans and peers.

Online classes will be conducted with a focus on content mastery, and assessments will be minimized during this time.  Nevertheless, students are still expected to complete homework assignments, attend classes and meet in-person behavioral expectations.  Teachers will continue to utilize the Hub for certain assignments, and will communicate frequently with students through email.


Update: March 13, 11 a.m.

Parent tests positive for the coronavirus

One parent within the school community has tested positive for COVID-19, President Rick Commons announced this morning. The parent has not been on either campus in the last month and is currently hospitalized and recovering from the virus. The child of the parent has also not exhibited any symptoms of the coronavirus, Commons said.

Later today, Heads of Middle and Upper School, Jon Wimbish and Laura Ross are expected to provide in-depth information regarding how the school plans to move forward with classes during the hiatus.

LAUSD shuts down campuses for at least two weeks

Nearby schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District will close their doors until March 30. LAUSD School Board member Nick Melvoin ’04 announced the decision follows recommendations from public health officials, and that plans are in place for students to continue learning while campuses are closed.

“I’m hoping that the closure is as smooth as possible for families, but we know this won’t be perfect,” Melvoin said. “We serve an incredibly high-need population, and we will continue to work tirelessly to adapt and solve any challenges that arise. School may be out, but our work will continue.”


Update: March 12, 8 p.m.

Deans available during closure

In an email sent out by Assistant to Head of Upper School and Dean Coordinator Lynn Miller, juniors were reminded that this year’s college research will be delayed by COVID-19. That being said, the email advised juniors to seek out other methods of exploring their prospective schools. These methods included several online tools, such as SCOIR, College Kickstart and the virtual tours that each college may offer. Deans will also be available during school hours for any students that may have any questions. 

The number of COVID-19 cases has now risen to 32 and the first death in Los Angeles has officially been confirmed by the LA County Department of Public Health. Mayor Eric Garcetti has also proposed to temporarily suspend evictions to protect renters from the effects of COVID-19.

For more updates regarding the current SAT testing situation, click here

For more information on what the city is doing to help combat COVID-19, click here

For daily updates about the progression of COVID-19, click here


Update: March 11, 12:35 p.m.

Campuses close until March 27

In an email sent out by President Rick Commons, Harvard-Westlake will close both of its campuses until March 27 in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Students will be given tomorrow and Friday off from classes while faculty will prepare lesson plans for online classes that will begin next Monday. From March 16-27, all core academic classes will occur online. All extracurricular and club events have been canceled until further notice. This includes the 9th grade dance, upper school dance concert, and the HWPA (Harvard-Westlake Parents Association) party book events. Additionally, the Westflix 2020 Film Festival as well as the Playwrights auditions have also canceled. All school sports competitions and practices have been suspended until further notice.    

Currently, there is at least one parent within the Harvard-Westlake community being tested for coronavirus. Commons said that the decision to close the campuses was made out of an abundance of caution for the health of families and faculty members. The administration will continue to update the school community on the actions it is taking to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

For recommended steps on how to prevent community spread of the coronavirus, click here.


Update: March 11, 12:16 p.m.

SAT on Saturday cancelled, school assembly cancelled

As confirmed by Upper School Student Discipline and Attendance Coordinator Gabe Preciado and in an email from Receptionist & SAT/ACT Test Center Supervisor Nathaly Blanco, the SAT planning to take place on Saturday IS cancelled. 

If your testing center does chose to close, you may be asked by the College Board to report to a different testing center. Remember that any students reassigned to other testing centers must reprint an updated version of their admission ticket with the new testing center’s information attached. They must also bring this ticket with them on test day. For any students that have their SAT canceled and aren’t provided with a substitute testing location, the College Board will send you an email within 24-48 hours with details about a scheduled test makeup date. All students who don’t take the exam will be refunded their registration fees.

For any students taking the ACT, no cancellations have been confirmed yet, as the ACT does not take place until April.  

Baskets full of small bottles of hand sanitizer and containers of Clorox wipes have been placed across campus for any students concerned with their personal hygiene. In the case of a school closure, students will be unable to obtain any books needed for class from the bookstore. Because of this, several English teachers have sent emails to their students asking them pick up any books needed for the rest of the year.

According the World Health Organization (WHO), the COVID-19 outbreak has been officially declared as an official pandemic. In addition, the total number of cases of the coronavirus in the world has now surpassed 121,000.


Update: March 10

All College Trips Canceled

In an email sent out today by President of Harvard-Westlake School Rick Commons, the school officially canceled all school trips that rely on air travel due to the coronavirus . This includes the 11th grade college tours, the southern civil rights tour, the Washington D.C. tour, the debate team’s trips to the National Debate Coaches Association National Championship and the 1st and 2nd year national debate championships at Woodward Academy, and the baseball team’s trip to North Carolina for the NHSI (National High School Invitational) baseball tournament. In addition, several on-campus events have been canceled, including the Alumni Real Estate event at the Middle School, Morning Joe with Jon, the Kutler Center Scholar-in-Residence Dinner and the Faculty/Staff Appreciation Lunch.

In addition, according to an email from Head of Communications & Strategic Initiatives Ari Engelberg, doctors can now request COVID-19 (Coronavirus) test kits through the LA County Department of Public Health. Engelberg also said that the kits will soon be available through private medical laboratories in the community that doctors will have easy access to.

Number of Coronavirus cases grows

The number of cases in the United States has surpassed 1,000 as of tonight, according to a New York Times article. Colleges in California, such as UCLA, USC, UC Berkeley, UCSD and Stanford, are all closing down their classrooms due to the coronavirus. Stanford, like many colleges across the country, has also chosen to cancel their “Admit Weekend” event for prospective undergraduates that have been admitted to Stanford according to Stanford’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

Furthermore, according to a tweet from Coachella’s official twitter account, the festival has officially been postponed to October 9-11 and October 16-18.

As of today, the number of coronavirus cases in LA has risen to 17, according to the LA County Department of Public Health.


Update: March 5

All international trips canceled, school does not plan to close

All school-sponsored international trips over spring break have been canceled due to the coronavirus, according to an email sent to the school community by Head of School Rick Commons. Domestic trips, including two college tours for juniors, are to continue as planned, but could still be cancelled if the situation worsens. Students who will travel internationally over spring break to China, Iran, Italy and other particularly affected countries will be required to notify Community Health Officer Milo Sini and may be asked to self-quarantine upon their return.

While the school does not plan to close, Commons said that they are currently working on contingency plans in case it becomes necessary. If the school does close, classes may be conducted over the internet over applications like Skype. Sam Yeh ’20, an AP Chinese student, said that several AP Chinese classes have already tested this plan.

According to the LA County Department of Public Health, the total number of known coronavirus cases in Los Angeles has risen to 11.


Update: March 4

State of Emergency declared

Los Angeles County declares health state of emergency, with six new cases, for a total of seven cases, according to the Los Angeles Times.


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