LONG BEACH (CBSLA) – The Long Beach Unified School District is slated to reopen elementary schools for in-person learning at the end of March.
Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia announced Wednesday night that LBUSD had decided to reopen all K-5 school campuses on March 29.
The district's latest timeline prompted mixed reaction.
"I think it's not enough," Larry Fellows, a member of the Reopen Long Beach Schools, said. "We were promised Oct. 5. Then we were promised end of January. Then we were promised March 1, and now they're saying, 'Well, no, now it's the end of March."
Back in December, LBUSD said that in-person learning would not resume until March 1 at the earliest.
But other parents were not sure that now was the time to reopen campuses.
"I'm not quite sure why our school district is moving so quickly to try and get kids back in schools," Melissa Morgan, a member of Long Beach Forward, said.
On Thursday, Superintendent Jill A. Baker said the district wanted to make sure all teachers and staff members had the opportunity to get both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine before schools returned to in-person learning.
"Families are making the choice," she said. "They have the choice this year to stay in a distance learning setting with their teacher and with their courses or to have their students return for in-person learning."
Once reopened, the campuses will employ safety measures that include mask wearing, distancing desks and asymptomatic testing.
"Elementary students will stay in their cohort," Baker said. "That's their own group of students and staff."
But parents like Morgan want to have distance learning continued a bit longer, especially for under-resourced communities where the impact of a single COVID-19 infection could be devastating.
"We have families with multiple people who are living in very small homes or apartment complexes," she said. "They're sharing space with grandparents, with abuelos and abuelas."
Fellows said he was worried about equity as well, fearing that many kids would be left behind if they're not able to return to the classroom.
"I hound on my kids daily just trying to get them to log in," he said. "If you've got to be at job somewhere or if you're an essential worker who has to be at a job somewhere, you can't go and check in on your kids at the beginning of every class."
The city of Long Beach, which has its own health department independent of Los Angeles County, began vaccinating LBUSD teachers in late January, though teachers are not required to get the vaccine.
As for older students in grades six through 12, the current plan is to get them back in the classroom by mid-April if Southern California moves out of the purple tier and into the less-restrictive red tier.
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