By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief
As confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the county continue to decline, Los Angeles met the threshold for reopening elementary schools, according to a statement from County of Los Angeles Public Health on Tuesday, February 16.
“The state permits elementary schools to reopen as soon as we reach an adjusted case rate of 25 per 100,000,” according to Public Health. “Los Angeles County’s adjusted case rate is now 20 cases per 100,000 people and our seven-day average daily test positivity rate is 7.2%.”
Meeting this threshold means that “dozens of elementary schools” are “permitted to open for in-person instruction for grades TK through six as early as this week.”
Public Health added that the county remains in the purple tier and transmission of COVID-19 continues to be “widespread.”
Schools that wish to reopen are required to submit plans to both the County Department of Public Health and California Department of Public Health, “certifying that they have implemented a full range of safety measures to permit a safe reopening.”
“This is an encouraging milestone,” according to the statement, “and we look forward to continuing to work with all stakeholders to ensure safety for students, teachers and staff returning to schools.”
Several private schools in the Palisades, including Calvary Christian, Corpus Christi, Seven Arrows Elementary, St. Matthew’s Parish, Village and Westside Waldorf schools, were granted waivers in 2020 and have offered some in-person instruction since that point.
As the Post went to print Tuesday, no further information was available concerning what this would mean for Canyon, Marquez and Palisades charter elementary schools, which fall into Los Angeles Unified School District.
LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner shared in a community address Monday, February 15, that “making schools a priority also means vaccinations for all who work in schools.”
He reported that in the last week, nearly 60 community organizations, ranging from the Alliance for Children’s Rights and Communities in Schools of Los Angeles to United Way, sent a joint letter to Governor Gavin Newsom and Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda Solis to request vaccinations be made immediately available for teachers and other school staff.
“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,” he said. “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.”
In her response, according to Beutner, Solis shared her view that “all who work in schools will be provided with vaccines in ‘the coming weeks.’”
“The sooner that timeframe can be made clear,” Beutner said, “the sooner we can provide a clear timetable to reopen schools.”
As the Post went to print, those who are able to get vaccinated include healthcare workers, staff and residents at skilled nursing facilities, staff and residents at long-term care facilities, and residents 65 and older. The next tier for vaccinations, which includes education and childcare, emergency services, and food and agriculture, was expected to be offered starting in March, according to Public Health’s vaccine portal website.
“Today’s daily test positivity rate is 5.2%, down 64% in one month (positivity rate was 14.3% on January 15),” according to a statement from Public Health on Monday. “There are 3,092 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized and 30% of these people are in the ICU. The countywide unadjusted adult ICU bed occupancy is 86% and countywide non-surge inpatient bed occupancy is 76%. Since January 15, hospitalizations are down 60%.”
Though “key COVID-19 indicators are declining,” according to Public Health, “the virus is still very much present and circulating widely in Los Angeles County.” Public Health urged residents to remain cautious and continue implementing safety precautions.
Confirmed cases of COVID-19 had reached 1,169,550 across the county when factoring in Long Beach and Pasadena with 19,215 deaths as the Post went to print Tuesday. There have been 710 confirmed cases and 17 deaths in Pacific Palisades, with an additional 128 in Palisades Highlands and one death.
According to data released by Public Health, as of Monday, Pacific Palisades had 47 confirmed cases in the 14-day cumulative case report, with Palisades Highlands at four.
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