Palm Valley School is first in Coachella Valley to have in-person waiver approved

Olivia Sandusky

Brenda Kaiser reads off socially distanced activities she plans to do with her third grade class when they return to campus in a week in a half.

“I’m excited and nervous at the same time. It’s kinda hard to be online virtually, so it’s mixed emotions for sure. I know we want to be safe, but at the same time, I want to be there one-on-one with my students,” said Kaiser.

Riverside County approved Palm Valley School’s waiver unanimously, and in-person elementary level classes begin Sept. 8th.

Many parents say they’re excited to see kids back in the classroom.

“It’s going to be great for the school and I look forward to when all kids can get back to school. I know it’s been difficult for all of us parents and really, really, difficult for the kids,” said Cherise Sonderman, a Palm Valley parent.

For those who aren’t ready to return, students can still continue with their online program.

“We have designed options to meet the needs of all of our families,” said Dr. Sherman, the head of Palm Valley School. “So we do, of course, have the screening guidelines and are keeping cohorts small and stable. But also we have a hyflex online option where students can stay at home and synchronously be in the classroom.”

All approved schools are required to follow strict state health guidelines.

“We are going to be six feet apart, we are going to be taking a break to wash our hands and we are going to be wearing our masks at all times,” said Kaiser.

But staff members say they’re excited to be the first Coachella Valley School to return to class.

“We were pleased to get the waiver. The vulnerability, the eyes on us, we expect that. We welcome the scrutiny,” said Dr. Sherman.

In the county’s acceptance letter, they stated, “You are not required to cease in-person instruction should the county case rate exceed 200 per
100,000 residents. Likewise, if the county exits the statewide monitoring list for at least 14 continuous days, then all schools may reopen per state order, and this waiver will no longer be required.”

King’s School and Desert Chapel Christian School also applied for the waiver, but their status is currently pending. 

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