Los Angeles, the country’s second-largest school system, is moving ahead with plans for open classrooms for learning in person on Tuesday.
Los Angeles Unified is like other school districts across the nation dealing with uncertainty about the Omicron variant as well as politicized tensions regarding the possibility of a reintroduction to remote learning as well as teacher shortages which have left schools in a mess.
Students attended classes in person last autumn, connecting with friends and regaining some of the normalcy they lost almost two-years ago. As coronavirus cases continue to rise, school districts across the United States are looking for ways forward.
Los Angeles public schools saw one of the longest school year shutdowns in America. While the district is taking safety measures to improve, officials in Los Angeles seem determined not to disrupt children’s learning.
“We know there is apprehension, and we’ve added the extra layers of protection for the return to school,” Megan K. Reilly, the interim superintendent, said in a video address on Monday. “There may be a few lines at the start of the school day and longer wait times for buses.”
Nazli Santana is a mother to two middle school students. She will be returning to class Tuesday. “If they could just shut it down for two more weeks, that would have been helpful,” she said.
District issued new rules last week requiring that students be tested before returning to campus. Schools have provided coronavirus testing for students and offered at-home vaccinations. Campuses must have masks. The mandate to immunize students 12 years old and older was to be in effect this week. However enforcement was delayed until the fall.
District data showed that during the week ending Monday, out of about 458,000 tests of students and staff members, 66,000 had come back positive for the coronavirus, a positivity rate of more than 15 percent — lower than county, state and the country averages, but still high enough to cause alarm.
“I’m worried, like a lot of parents,” said Amanda Santos, whose 7-year-old attends first grade in the district.
Ms. Santos has been watching an online dashboard that displays data from the district for several months. For much of the fall semester, the weekly report for her son’s elementary school was showing only a couple of positive cases at a time. Over the winter break, however, she saw this number increase to the dozens.
Ms. Santos expressed concern about this. She said that schools were careful about safety and kept parents informed. “They’re not letting anybody who has a positive test, or who doesn’t test, on campus,” she said. “So I feel secure about that.”
Cecily Myart-Cruz, the president of the local teachers’ union, said in a statement on Monday that the district was “in a better position than most others in the country” because of the safety measures it has taken.
“This week will be stressful, and there will be disruptions,” she added. “No one has a playbook for this moment.”
Source: NY Times