LAUSD submitted a plan for on-site learning that was approved by L.A. Public Health, but it may not begin reopening classes until teachers are vaccinated.
While L.A. County has recorded a five-day COVID-19 case rate under 25 per 100,000 residents, allowing it to reopen schools by state standards, LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner said on Feb. 8 that staff safety and vaccinations were a district priority.
“We know a critical part of reopening school classrooms will be creating the safest possible school environment, and that includes providing vaccinations to all who work in schools,” Beutner said Monday. “This will not only protect the health and safety of the essential employees in schools, but will provide enormous benefit to children and their families, leading to a faster reopening of schools and of the economy more broadly by enabling working families to go back to work.”
L.A. County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer said the hope is that teachers can begin being vaccinated on March 1, but it “really depends on how much vaccine we get.”
“We can go super fast if we get a lot of vaccine, or we can go slower if we don’t get a lot of vaccine,” Ferrer said. “We can do 600,000 appointments right now and we only have 200,000 doses.”
As teachers await their turn, LAUSD nurses will begin receiving vaccinations at Roybal Learning Center, Wednesday, and will be the LAUSD’s first school-based vaccination site.
With Los Angeles County meeting the state’s threshold for reopening K-6 classes, L.A. Public Health detailed the measures schools must take in order to be certified for in-person instruction.
On-site learning will not be mandatory for any school and the decision to reopen will be left to individual schools and districts. Distance learning will also continue for those who do not want their children attending in-person classes.
“It is understandable that there are many parents who do not currently feel comfortable sending their children back to school for on-site learning,” Ferrer said. “Schools offering on-campus opportunity learning should continue to offer 100% distance learning opportunities.”
Aside from the typical face mask, cleaning and distancing measures that most sectors comply with in Los Angeles, school must show that they are enforcing a system where class members cannot mix and are with same group of students at all times.
School buildings will be required to have certified ventilation systems in place, a measure that LAUSD has already implemented in 80,000 square feet of its buildings through MERV 13 filtration, which is known for filtering between 35% to 50% of bacteria, smoke, sneeze nuclei, insecticide dust, copier toner and face powder, according to W.W. Grainger Supply Co.
Schools will also be required to have a testing and contact tracing program in place.
These requirements are similar to what 297 Los Angeles schools have already complied with when receiving waivers to reopen their TK-2 grade classes. Those schools will still be asked to resubmit their COVID-19 compliance plans in order to expand classes to grades three through six.