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'We Are Over The Moon': Las Virgenes Unified Reopens Elementary School Campus To Students

CALABASAS (CBSLA) — Things looked a little different Monday as students returned to campus at Lupin Hill Elementary in Calabasas, with students staying six feet apart, wearing face coverings and counting to 20 while they washed their hands.

As of Monday, only students in grades TK through 2nd have been allowed back on campus, their anxious — but excited — parents there for drop-off and pick-up.

"There's trepidation, but I think it's the right thing," Michael Horn, a parent, said. "Somebody this age, you know, they need to be around each other."

About a quarter of the students opted to continue remote learning, but Liraz Benelisha's 5-year-old son was ready to return to campus.

"He used to cry every day, used to look at kids, 'Mommy, I want to play with my friends,'" she said.

Students in the district have been divided up into morning and afternoon cohorts — reducing class sizes to roughly 12 students — with a 90 minute break between each group, giving the school time to clean and sanitize.

"Desks, chairs, the whole classroom gets sprayed down the bathrooms everything gets sprayed down and cleaned, even the play equipment that they use," Scott Foli, school principal, said.

Students get a temperature check when they arrive on campus and their parents have to fill out a health screening before arrival. While on campus, students stay with their cohort and do not interact with others.

If a student does test positive for COVID-19, the entire cohort, both morning and afternoon, would be required to take part in remote learning for 14 days, Foli said.

Las Virgenes is the first school district in Los Angeles County to return to campus since schools closed in March.

"We worked hard with L.A. County public health, submitted our reopening plan, spent $1.6 million getting ready for today," Dan Stepenosky, superintendent, said. "We are over the moon."

As of Monday, only students in grades TK through second were allowed to return to campus, but Foli said the school was ready to submit a waiver for the remainder of the students as soon as allowed by the county.

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