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Audio: LA County Health Director Says Schools Won't Reopen Until After November Election

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) - County health officials Thursday sought to clarify comments made by Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer after a recording emerged of Ferrer predicting that schools were unlikely to reopen until after the November election.

The comments were first reported by KFI AM 640, which provided an audio file of Ferrer apparently saying the reopening timeline for L.A. County would likely come sometime after the election on Nov. 3.

During a reported conference call with local educators, school nurses and other groups while discussing the upcoming flu season, Ferrer said:

"We don't realistically anticipate that we would be moving either to Tier 2 [of California's reopening plan] or to reopening K-12 schools at least...until after the election, after, you know, in early November. If we just look at the timing of everything, it seems to us the most realistic approach to this would be to think that we're gonna be where we are now...until...we are done with the elections."

In response to the comments, a L.A. County Department of Public Health (DPH) spokesperson said Ferrer's comment "was related only to timing any expanded school re-openings to allow for enough time from the implementation of changes to assess impact prior to expansions."

"DPH will be working closely with schools providing services and supports to high need students over the next 6-8 weeks to implement and assess safety directives and strategies for ensuring infection control and distancing. This information will be used to inform the timing of future activities at schools," the statement added.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a statewide mandate banning students from in-class education in July. Since then, school districts in Orange County have begun planning to reopen campuses by the end of September, but LAUSD and most other districts remain closed to in-class learning.

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