By LILY TINOCO | Reporter
Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner announced on Monday, November 2, that schools are still a long way from reopening due to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases.
Beutner reported that LA has to be below a seven on the state dashboard for at least three weeks to be considered for reopening; LA is currently at eight, and the number of virus cases are only going up.
“As a practical matter, that means it will not be possible for schools to reopen this semester,” Beutner said during his regular Monday broadcast. “Under state guidelines, and given the current level of the virus, there is simply not enough time left in the calendar for the Los Angeles area to meet the state guidelines before the holidays.”
Beutner reported that students are continually struggling with online learning, as seen in attendance figures and the number of students receiving Ds and Fs in comparison to last year.
“Seven months’ absence from schools is having real impact on students, it’s time for state and local authorities to work with schools to make sure students and all who work in schools can return safely in January,” he said. “That’s more than two months away, with a clear plan, consistent commitment and a dedicated focus, it can be done.”
Beutner announced a plan to provide in-person instruction to small groups of students, with up to three students in each group, as well as outdoor athletic conditioning for small cohorts of students as an effort to bring students back to school safely. Schools will also provide extra support to students experiencing homelessness and students who are a part of the foster care system as part of a $1 million commitment announced last week.
“Until all students are back at schools, we’ll do our best to help those most in need with individual and small group support,” Beutner said. “All of this is being conducted under a very strict set of health practices.”
Los Angeles County Department of Public Health offered a waiver opportunity for students in TK through second grade to return to school for in-person instruction in early October. Private schools throughout Pacific Palisades are waiting for approval, including St. Matthew’s Parish School.
The school told the Palisadian-Post that 100% of its second-graders are slated to return to campus starting November 16 under the Special Services Designation, “which allows for up to 25% of [the] student body to be designated as needing in-person education,” according to a representative. Once St. Matthew’s is granted the TK-2 waiver, it will allow a larger portion of its student population to return.
Other Palisades’ schools did not immediately respond to requests for comment as the Post went to print Tuesday evening.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the number of positive cases of COVID-19 had reached 311,745 in Los Angeles County when factoring in Long Beach and Pasadena, with 7,097 deaths. There were 165 cases across Pacific Palisades, with 33 additional in Palisades Highlands.
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