By LILY TINOCO | Reporter
Saturday, March 13, marked one full year since Los Angeles Unified School District campuses closed in response to the emergence of COVID-19.
Now school district officials are looking at a mid-April target date to reopen schools.
LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner announced that LA Unified has reached an agreement with its labor partners on plans to reopen schools in his weekly broadcast on Monday, March 15.
“These agreements provide for a hybrid model at all grade levels, combining in-person and online instruction with students remaining in small, stable cohorts while at school to help prevent the spread of the virus,” he said.
The target for reopening schools mid-April includes preschool and elementary students. Middle and high school students would begin to return at the end of April.
Beutner said families were provided a guide with detailed information on the health and safety preparations at schools, COVID testing for students and staff, safety protocols, and instructional schedules. Families are expected to let the district know whether their child will return to campus or complete the semester online.
“This approach reinforces my commitment to reopen schools with the highest standard of COVID safety, continued reduction of the virus in the communities we serve and access to vaccinations for school staff,” he said.
LAUSD District 4 Representative Nick Melvoin said it’s past time the district provides the opportunity for students to return to campus during a recent Pacific Palisades Community Council meeting on Thursday, March 11.
“We’ve been talking about safety measures and risks with reopening, but we also need to keep in mind the risk of not reopening and the harm that this has done to children for being out of school for a year,” Melvoin said.
Melvoin mentioned the district news applies to Palisades schools, including Marquez, Palisades and Canyon charter elementary schools, as well as Paul Revere Charter Middle School—but not Palisades Charter High School, as it is an independent charter school.
Principal Dr. Pamela Magee told the Palisadian-Post the school was meeting with UTLA-PCHS representatives on an ongoing basis to configure an agreement with teachers for a safe return to campus when conditions allow. A presentation was slated for the Tuesday, March 16, Board of Trustees meeting to update the school community.
Magee added that a survey was sent out to parents, teachers and students to determine their views on the school reopening.
“This feedback will play an important part in determining on-campus options for the remainder of the spring semester,” she said.
Melvoin said the planning process for LAUSD’s middle and high school students has been difficult because the basis of a safe school reopening is stable cohorts. Upper grade level students typically have six or seven different classes, and encounter hundreds of different kids each day.
He said middle and high school students will be able to visit campus for advisory, mental health check-ins, college and career advising, but their core classes will remain virtual.
“I’m gratified that by the end of the school year, kids will have the opportunity to be back on campus where they belong,” Melvoin concluded.
Los Angeles County moved into the red tier, effective Monday, March 15, Public Health reported, which meant that additional reopenings were permitted with required safety protocols for masking, distancing and infection control.
Movie theaters are now able to open at 25% capacity, as well as gyms, fitness centers, yoga and dance studios at 10% capacity. Restaurants can open for indoor dining at 25% max capacity with eight feet of distance between tables, a limit of one household up to six people at a table and maximum ventilation.
Private gatherings are now permitted indoors with up to three households, with masking and distancing required.
“People who are fully vaccinated can gather in small numbers indoors with other people who are fully vaccinated without required masking and distancing,” according to Public Health.
The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Los Angeles County when factoring in Long Beach and Pasadena had reached 1,210,905 with 22,519 deaths as the Post went to print Tuesday.
There have been 784 confirmed cases in Pacific Palisades, with an additional 143 in Palisades Highlands.
As the Post went to print Tuesday, Public Health reported 37.4% of Pacific Palisades had received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, with Palisades Highlands at 38.3%.
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