LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn announced Monday that the county had "officially reached the state's threshold for reopening elementary schools," but L.A. Unified said its campuses would not reopen until all its staff were vaccinated.
According to Hahn, schools that have a waiver or have submitted their COVID-19 safety plans can reopen as early as Tuesday for on-campus instruction for children in grades K-6.
However, LAUSD said it would not be reopening its campuses for in-person instruction just yet, referring to statements made by Superintendent Austin Beutner, who mentioned it could be a year out before schools go back to fully in-person instruction.
On Feb. 8, Beutner laid out the three things that need to happen in order for LAUSD campuses to reopen:
• Get the community spread of the virus down to the level the state requires;
• Put the right set of health practices and protocols in place at schools; and
• Vaccinate 25,000 people.
"To vaccinate all who work in these schools, who are not otherwise already eligible, we would need to vaccinate about 25,000 people," he said. "You heard that right – vaccinating 25,000 people will allow us to reopen elementary school classrooms for 250,000 children and help their half million plus family members start on the path to recovery and allow many of them to go back to work.
"Vaccinate 25,000 people and reopen elementary schools in the nation's second largest school district," he continued. "Sounds simple to me."
Also on Monday, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said it was sending out a letter via email to announce that schools would be allowed to reopen campuses since the county has reached an adjusted case rate of 25 per 100,000 residents.
"This encouraging news means that dozens of elementary schools will be permitted to reopen for in-class instruction for students grades TK-6 as early as this week," the statement said. "All schools wishing to reopen must submit plans to the County Department of Public Health and the California Department of Public Health certifying that they have implemented a full range of safety measures to permit a safe reopening."
The district's teacher's union, UTLA, also stands by the LAUSD in its resistance to rush to open schools, saying that L.A. County should move out of the most-restrictive purple tier before moving forward.
In a statement on Tuesday night, UTLA's president said, "Resuming in-person instruction when cases are so high and without proper health and safety protocols will result in a yo-yo effect of closures, upending the very educational stability that our students and communities deserve."
The announcements come after a Monday morning rally downtown by The Students First Coalition. The group was calling for the reopening of all school campuses this semester.
L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer says the county has seen 88 outbreaks as schools since September… when compared to other open sectors she said that was very low.
The county says if they have enough vaccine supply, they hope to start vaccinating teachers by March 1.
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