Los Angeles County elementary schools can reopen as COVID-19 cases drop

Marco Green
February 17, 2021

Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and school officials announced "encouraging news" Monday for parents and students: Schools reopening could happen as soon as this week. "Now we can continue the work getting our kids and teachers safely back in classrooms where they belong", she added. "Case rates in LA County are dropping".

According to Ferrer, 12 local school districts, including LAUSD, have submitted safety plans and received approval from the county.

The announcement comes as some teachers' unions argue that educators shouldn't be forced back into the classroom without a vaccination, despite CDC guidance indicating it's not a necessity for in-person teaching to resume safely.

The union issued a statement Tuesday saying reopening schools while the county is still in the "purple" tier will "almost certainly lead to an increase in infections and school closures, creating even more instability and frustration".

Debra Duardo, Los Angeles County Superintendent of Schools, called the ability to reopen schools an encouraging sign.

The county plans to expand the availability of vaccinations on March 1 to various classes of essential workers, including teachers.

"Some students have dropped out entirely", Solis said. Ferrer is expected to speak at the LAUSD Board of Education meeting about the school-reopening issue late Tuesday afternoon. "Starting Wednesday, February 17, the Moderna vaccine will be administered by Los Angeles Unified school nurses and other licensed healthcare professionals at the Roybal Learning Center, becoming Los Angeles Unified's first school-based vaccination center", Superintendent Austin Beutner said.

"Educators can not support a broad physical reopening of schools until school staff required to work in person have access to vaccinations, L.A. County is out of the purple tier and reaches much lower community transmission rate, and all schools have strict multi-layered mitigation strategies in place - such as COVID testing, physical distancing, use of masks, hand hygiene, and isolation/quarantine procedures", UTLA President Cecily Myart-Cruz said in a statement Tuesday.

School districts in the county will decide individually whether to actually open campuses for students in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade. "I will continue to advocate for our region's some 2 million children to ensure that resources are directed to our most vulnerable students and support efforts to address longstanding educational inequities". He also noted that LAUSD has already provided over a half-million COVID-19 tests to staff and students and is working to turn schools into vaccination sites. Even after the deal was reached, the union placed a vote of no confidence in Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

California health officials recently released an interactive map that allows Angelenos and others across the state to track the status of campus reopenings. The Safe Schools Reopening Map provides data on the status of reopening and safety planning for school districts, charter and private schools in Los Angeles and across California. "So this is a pathway forward when there's a school community that feels like this is the time for them to be able to reopen".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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