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Substitutes Replace Sick Teachers To Begin Spring Semester In LAUSD

HARBOR CITY (CBSLA) — On Tuesday, most students in Los Angeles returned to school, however, many were greeted with unfamiliar faces. 

"There were teachers missing," said ninth-grader Zuleina Gonzalez. "I had a substitute. The teacher is going to be gone for about a whole week."

Hiccups like teachers calling in sick with COVID-19 were a common occurrence for not only students at Gonzalez's school Narbonne High in Harbor City but at many schools in Los Angeles Unified School District. According to the LAUSD website, Narbonne has been hit especially hard, recording one of the highest positivity rates among L.A. public schools, more than 16%, which is slightly higher than the district's average of 14.2%.

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Narbonne High School reported one of the highest positivity rates among all Los Angeles public schools. (credit: CBS)

"I'm really grateful that we fought for baseline testing to prevent all of these cases from hitting our schools today," said LAUSD parent and teacher Nicolle Fefferman. 

Both staff and students had to submit a negative test before returning to their classrooms for the spring semester. LAUSD distributed free take-home COVID tests to students on Friday and Saturday.  

Fefferman said that while her high school had experienced some delays but her children got into school without much of a hassle.

"The schools had a list of negative students," said Fefferman. "And so they were ready for something to go wrong with Daily Pass and both of my kids were able to get into school just fine."

With the Omicron surge continuing, the interim superintendent addressed what it would take to close down schools and if there was a plan in place to do so. 

"What we're looking now is basically Omicron goes through fairly quickly," said interim superintendent Megan Reilly. "I'm hopeful about getting kids in school — getting employees in school. We'll actually see the rate coming."

Despite teachers testing positive and substitutes replacing them, students were able to continue with their lesson plans after their typical teachers posted them online.

"The whole school felt kind of off — it felt emptier than usual," said Narbonne ninth-grader Samantha Villaroman. "Compared to a normal day it really felt a lot more empty."

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