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LAUSD, Teachers Union Reach School Reopening Deal

(Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Los Angeles Unified School District officials have reached a long-awaited agreement with leaders of the district’s teachers’ union to resume on-campus instruction.

The deal with United Teachers Los Angeles was unveiled Tuesday evening.

One key condition for allowing students to return? The vaccination of staff. Under the deal, all school staff will have time to receive both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine -- and wait the recommended two weeks to gain full immunity -- before students return.


  • Following the vaccination timeline, LAUSD officials hope to bring elementary students back by April 19, although this target date itself may not be included in the language of the agreement, school district sources said.
  • Middle and high schoolers would return later -- district officials hope by either late April or early May, the sources said.
  • Elementary students would attend in half-day shifts: The agreement calls for specific classes of students to have in-person instruction time either in the morning or the afternoon. (That squares with a March 6 proposal the union released.)
  • Middle- and high schoolers will attend Zoom classes from a classroom: Whenever LAUSD’s secondary students return to campuses, they’ll still attend most classes over Zoom, but they will have access to advisory teachers and other in-person supports, the sources said. This stems from the difficulty of redoing a school’s master schedule so late in the school year.
  • Employees in high-risk groups will be allowed to work remotely under the deal.


Four of California’s five largest school districts have already announced plans to resume on-campus instruction -- including neighboring Long Beach Unified, as well as Fresno, Elk Grove and San Diego Unified (though the exact date of San Diego’s reopening may still be in flux).

UTLA leadership and members have said they would “resist” any move to return to campuses while L.A. County remains in the state’s most-restrictive purple tier, before a comprehensive safety agreement was in place, or before all staff were fully vaccinated.

LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner -- who himself has criticized hasty moves toward reopening -- has also called for the vaccination of staff as a precondition for opening schools.

Now, L.A. County’s exit from the purple tier is imminent. Yesterday, UTLA said the two sides were “close to a tentative agreement” on safety protocols.

Plus, Beutner recently announced that Gov. Gavin Newsom had secured some 25,000 COVID-19 vaccinations for LAUSD -- enough to vaccinate all staff in LAUSD elementary schools.


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This story was updated at 8:08 p.m. Tuesday, March 9.

Read Gov. Newsom's Annotated State Of The State Address From Dodger Stadium

Gavin Newsom prepares to give the State of the State address at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday, March 9, 2021. (Courtesy of the Office of the Governor)

Governor Gavin Newsom delivered his State of the State address Tuesday evening — and he did it from Dodger Stadium. You can watch it above and read the speech as annotated and fact-checked by our politics reporter, Libby Denkmann, as well as reporters and editors from CapRadio in Sacramento.

The State of the State address is typically delivered in front of legislators at the state Capitol.

Newsom's office said ahead of the speech that he spoke from Chavez Ravine for a few reasons:

  • Dodger Stadium is one of the first community vaccination sites in California
  • Newsom wanted to remember the nearly 55,000 Californians who've died of COVID-19 thus far and Dodger Stadium seats approximately that number of people

The pandemic was a focal point of Newsom's address as it is for many people, especially since we're nearing the one-year anniversary of the first statewide stay-at-home order, which was issued March 19, 2020.


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TV Pilot Club: 'The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air' — Kick It With Us To Revisit The Very First Episode


In 1990, one of the most iconic sitcom theme songs in history launched a brand-new TV show. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was a classic fish-out-of-water story with a decidedly ‘90s twist. Nearly 20 million viewers tuned in to watch each week.

Come hang out with LAist arts & entertainment reporter Mike Roe* and special guests as they get into all things fresh — from the fashion and the music to Jazzy Jeff and the Carlton.

Watch the pilot again before the event and join us right back here at 6:30 p.m. tonight (Tuesday).

*We can’t promise Mike won’t sing the theme song.

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LA County Could See More 24-Hour COVID-19 Vaccine Sites

A pharmacist at UCI Health Center preps COVID-19 vaccine. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Some states like New York have had overnight COVID-19 testing and vaccination clinics for months. L.A. County has a few, but the Board of Supervisors would like to see more.

On Tuesday, the board passed a motion calling on the public health department to figure out how much it would cost to operate the sites for extended hours, including overnight.

The idea is to expand access for essential workers — many of whom are Black or Latino and work at night or in the early morning hours, making it difficult for them to get vaccinated at many of the county’s sites, which often close in the early evening.

“We must ensure that all people in the County, regardless of race, creed, or immigration status, get vaccinated if we are to ever achieve a truly healthy County, and this means providing COVID-19 vaccines at hours when essential workers and others can get to the clinics,” Board Chair Hilda Solis said in a statement.

The board directed staff to report back in three weeks on the feasibility of extended hours.


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Pasadena To Reschedule Vaccinations After Line Jumpers Took Hundreds Of Appointments

A pharmacist at UCI Health holds a dose of the COVID-19 Vaccine. Chava Sanchez/LAist

Pasadena planned to hold its largest vaccination clinic yet on Thursday, but line jumpers forced the city to cancel.

Pasadena spokeswoman Lisa Derderian says a large group of media professionals got a hold of the registration link. Ineligible people booked more than 900 of the 1,500 available appointments.

Derderian says she found out from a reporter who received the link, and she's not surprised it got out there:

"It's not difficult to forward it to people, even though in big red letters and font it says 'DO NOT SHARE OR FORWARD.'

Derderian says the email was also very specific about which tiers are currently eligible. Most of the people who signed up didn't even live in Pasadena, she added.

For now, she says there's no way to punish line jumpers. The city will reschedule shots for people with legitimate appointments.


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LA County Could Enter New Phase Of Reopenings As Soon As This Weekend. Here's What We Know.

A restaurant in Beverly Hills last November. (Robyn Beck / AFP)

The COVID-19 case rate in L.A. County continues to drop, and data released today shows that number is now low enough to qualify the county for the less restrictive red tier on the state's coronavirus monitoring system.

That would allow more businesses to reopen and indoor dining to resume.

But when the county can actually leave the most restrictive purple tier depends on how soon the state can meet its threshold of two million vaccine doses administered in communities hardest hit by the virus.

L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer told county supervisors today that she thinks the state is going to hit that goal within the next few days. That means L.A. County could be in the red tier by this weekend:

"Our understanding is that within 48 hours of the state announcing the vaccine trigger has been met, L.A. County, along with other counties with qualifying case rates, would move into the red tier."

But this isn't our first reopening rodeo, and Ferrer urged caution:

"We've been here before. We've been here with reopenings, we've seen what happens around holidays if we're not really careful. I try to think of it as, we've gotta keep everyone alive right now so they can get vaccinated and stay alive."

Counties in the red tier can allow indoor dining to resume and movie theaters and indoor museums to open at 25% capacity. Schools could also allow in-person learning for middle and high school students.

But again, it still remains unclear exaclty when the county would allow those reopenings.

Here's what would change if/when L.A. County does move into the red tier:

  • Indoor retail would be allowed at 50% capacity (it's now capped at 25% in the purple tier)
  • Museums, zoos and aquariums could open indoor spaces at 25% capacity
  • Movie theaters would be allowed to open for indoor seating at 25% capacity
  • Hotels could open fitness centers (at 10% capacity)
  • Gyms, fitness centers and climbing facilties could open for indoor service at 10% capacity
  • Restaurants could open indoor dining at 25% capacity

For more info about restrictions in each of the state's reopening tiers, take a scroll through this handy PDF.

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Music Industry Pledged To Do Better In Diversity And Inclusion, But So Far It Has Not

Beyonce performs as she is pregnant with twins during the 59th Annual Grammy music Awards on February 12, 2017, in Los Angeles, California. / AFP / VALERIE MACON (Photo credit should read VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images) VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Ima

We know the film and TV industries have a bad track record when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion.

Now, a new music industry DEI report card has just as many failing grades.

The study from USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative is filled with discouraging statistics, even after an industry pledge to do better.

Examining the 900 most popular songs over the past nine years, the researchers found that less than 13% of the song’s authors were women. Female producers didn’t even account for 3% of people behind those songs, and the numbers were even worse for non-white women.

Even though artists such as Taylor Swift, Beyoncé and Rihanna are wildly popular, most other female performers remain outliers, including at the Grammy Awards, which will be staged this coming weekend. Less than 14% of all Grammy nominees over those nine years were women.

Three years ago, USC’s equally woeful analysis prompted music industry calls for change. The result? In 2019, nearly 23% of the 100 top songs were by female artists.

Last year, the figure dropped to barely 20%.

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Producer And Director Guilds Announce Award Nominees

Aaron Sorkin received a Directors Guild nomination for "The Trial of the Chicago 7" and the film also has a best picture nod from the Producers Guild. (Nico Tavenise/Netflix)

Hollywood is almost done with the town’s frivolous awards ceremonies -- events such as the Critics Choice Awards (which seems to be missing an apostrophe) -- and those other trophies dispensed by a bunch of random foreign journalists who happen to live in Los Angeles.

Now it’s time for the industry’s far more important guilds to reveal their favorites, which often predict what happens at the Academy Awards.

On Monday, the Producers Guild of America unveiled its best picture nominations, including Oscar favorites “Nomadland,” “Minari” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7.”

The other seven shortlisted movies are “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” “Mank,” “Promising Young Woman,” “One Night in Miami,” “Sound of Metal,” and, in a bit of a surprise, “Judas and the Black Messiah.”

The winner of the PGA trophy, to be presented March 24, often repeats at the Oscars, but last year the guild selected “1917” as best picture while the motion picture academy chose “Parasite.”

On the heels of the PGA picks, the Directors Guild of America then revealed its nominations for work behind the camera. The DGA shortlist includes Lee Isaac Chung (“Minari”), Emerald Fennell (“Promising Young Woman”), David Fincher (“Mank”), Aaron Sorkin (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”) and Chloé Zhao (“Nomadland”). The winner will be announced April 10.

Finally, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts -- the U.K.’s version of the Academy Awards -- announced its shortlist for best films on Tuesday: “The Father,” “The Mauritanian,” “Nomadland,” “Promising Young Woman” and “The Trial Of The Chicago 7.”

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Disneyland Plans To Reopen In Late April

File: Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Get your mouse ears and Disney-themed face masks ready. At Tuesday's Disney shareholders meeting, Disney CEO Bob Chapek announced that they expect to be able to reopen their Southern California parks with limited capacity by late April.

"Here in California, we're encouraged by the positive trends we're seeing and we're hopeful they'll continue to improve," Chapek said in the meeting.

While he didn't offer a specific date, he said it should be announced "in the coming weeks." The state announced last week that theme parks could reopen as soon as April 1, but there are some logistics that mean it won't be happening quite that soon.

Chapek said:

"The fact is it will take some time to get [the parks] ready for our guests — this includes recalling more than 10,000 furloughed cast and retraining them to be able to operate according to the state of California's new requirements."

That's expected to be a big benefit for Anaheim and the surrounding community. Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu, noting a severely impacted economy, has been among the loudest voices calling for Disney's SoCal parks to reopen.

There's also the issue of Disney's food event, "A Touch of Disney," which opens March 18 and has sold tickets through early April. It's only taking place in California Adventure, but it's giving fans the chance to get a taste of what they've been missing.

But it won't be that long until they get something closer to the real deal. Parks will still have limited capacity, with attractions within the park also likely to be significantly limited. Several Disneyland parking lots have also been in use as a mass vaccination center in the area due to the parks’ closure; it’s unclear when those lots will reopen for attendees, though the need may not be there at the moment due to the limited capacity.

While Disney has been hurting during the pandemic, with billions lost between everything from their parks and movies to their cruise line, they had a big piece of news to announce during that shareholders meeting: their Disney+ streaming service now has more than 100 million paid subscribers worldwide.

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'Grandparents Can Hug Their Grandchildren': LA County Endorses New CDC Guidelines For Vaccinated Residents

A woman receives the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccine site in Long Beach. Chava Sanchez/LAist

The CDC released new guidelines for fully-vaccinated people yesterday, giving them permission to gather indoors with other fully vaccinated individuals -- with no masks or distancing.

Vaccinated individuals can also visit one household that isn't fully vaccinated (if the people in that household are not at risk for severe cases of COVID-19).

L.A. County Health Director Barbara Ferrer endorsed the guidelines and explained to us what they mean:

"Grandparents are now allowed to visit households with their grandchildren, they can hug their grandchildren, they can have a meal with their grandchildren."

Ferrer also said having the vaccine doesn't mean you can't get someone sick. She said we should take precautions when around those with health risks:

"If you're gonna visit a relative in your family who's 70-years-old and she has diabetes and hasn't yet gotten her vaccine, you'd need to keep your face coverings on, as would she during that visit, and you should ideally do that visit outdoors."

Starting March 15, Los Angeles County will begin offering the COVID-19 vaccine to people ages 16 and up with disabilities or underlying health conditions that make them more susceptible to severe illness if they're infected.

Ferrer says she's currently working with the state to figure out what exactly will be required for someone to prove their eligibility.

She says the simplest way to get the vaccine under this eligibility criteria will be if your healthcare provider is administering vaccines. You won't need to bring anything because your provider will already have your medical history.

Or you could go to your pharmacy, if they're administering the vaccine, Ferrer said:

"Your pharmacy may have enough information on you to verify you're a person with serious illness and you might not need a lot of verification there, but I think in most sites people will need some form of verification that they're in fact eligible."

She says there will be multiple ways to do that, none of which will require having a government-issued ID.


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Indoor Dining Could Return To LA Restaurants Soon. These Are The Rules

The dining room at Marouch Restaurant in East Hollywood. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Update: An earlier version of this story that said that indoor dining could reopen as soon as this weekend.

Los Angeles County is likely to move into a less restrictive tier of California's three-tier reopening plan this weekend. When that happens, restaurants can return to indoor dining in a limited capacity — but that doesn't mean it will resume right away.

At a meeting Tuesday morning, L.A. County's public health director, Barbara Ferrer, told the Board of Supervisors that she believes the county will move into the red tier this weekend. It remains unclear whether the loosened restrictions will go into effect immediately or whether the county must maintain those lower case and positivity rates for two weeks before reopenings can begin. We will update this story when we know more.

Currently, L.A. County is in the most restrictive purple tier. Aside from takeout and delivery, restaurants, wineries and tasting rooms can only serve customers outdoors and only with modifications. Bars, breweries and distilleries must remain closed.

When we move to the less restrictive red tier, restaurants can serve patrons indoors at 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is lower. Wineries and tasting rooms can still only serve patrons outdoors. Bars, breweries and distilleries must remain closed.

When we eventually move to the orange tier, restaurants can increase their indoor dining capaciy to 50% while wineries and tasting rooms can begin offering indoor service at 25% capacity. Bars, breweries and distilleries can finally reopen and begin serving patrons outdoors.

Currently, only Alpine and Sierra counties, in Northern California, are in the orange tier. No counties are in the least restrictive yellow tier.

A breakdown of California's purple, red, orange and yellow tiers.


Southern California officials originally thought L.A. County's move to the red tier would occur near the end of March. But at Monday's coronavirus briefing, Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of the L.A. County Department of Public Health said it was "highly likely" it would happen by the middle of next week. At today's Board of Supervisors meeting, she sped up that timeline.

Why so soon?

Coronavirus cases in the county have dropped to their lowest levels since before the deadly winter holiday surge.

Officials also changed their vaccine distribution strategy to focus on innoculating L.A. County's most vulnerable residents.

Plus, California shifted the benchmarks on when counties can move through the reopening tiers.

Under the new guidelines, if a county has a daily rate of 7 to 10 coronavirus cases for two straight weeks, it will automatically move to the red tier on the day the state has administered 2 million doses of the vaccine in hard-hit communities.

Last week, L.A. County's adjusted case rate was 7.2 new cases per 100,000.

Once 4 million doses of the vaccine are distributed in underserved areas, California will loosen its reopening rules again, making it easier for regions to move into the orange and yellow tiers.

In Northern California, seven counties including Santa Clara and San Francisco have already resumed indoor dining because they moved into the red tier.


At yesterday's briefing, Dr. Christina Ghaly, the County Health Services Director, announced that you no longer need an appointment to get a COVID-19 test at any of the 18 test sites run by L.A County.

Ferrer, however, also warned people not to get complacent. She noted that infections are ticking up in other states and we don't live in a bubble. She also warned that L.A. County doesn't have enough vaccinated residents to stop another spike in cases, especially if people travel or attend large gatherings for Easter, Passover and Spring Break.

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Morning Brief: Vaccine Ethics, The Wild West, And Fro-Yo

Colorful flowers growing over a ledge in South Los Angeles. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Good morning, L.A. It’s March 9.

As more people become eligible for the coronavirus vaccine, but supply remains low, many Angelenos are struggling with ethical questions. If an opportunity presents itself to get a shot but you’re still not eligible, should you take it? What about getting a dose that would otherwise be thrown out?

On our newsroom's public affairs show, AirTalk, which airs on 89.3 KPCC, guest host Libby Denkmann discussed this issue with Jennifer James, a researcher at UCSF Bioethics, and Alyssa Burgart, a bioethicist and pediatric anesthesiologist at Stanford University.

Over the course of the conversation, both women emphasized two points: That the difficulties many Americans experience trying to get a vaccine are systemic governmental failures, not individual failures; and the importance of distinguishing between equity and equality, and between what is fair and what is just.

In response to a caller who received the vaccine at the same time as her elderly parents, despite not being eligible, Burgart pointed to the confusing — and sometimes misleading — information that’s been disseminated by all levels of government.

“This [is about] individual decisions versus what does systemic injustice look like,” she said. “When you have a community that does not trust its local health care providers, does not trust its state public health services to provide equitable access to vaccination, then it creates an environment in which folks ... are forced to make individual decisions based on their individual priorities.”

Speaking to a similar question, James used the hypothetical example of being at a CVS clinic at the end of the day, and pharmacists having an extra dose.

“The fair thing to do at that point is to say, Nobody here is eligible, let's throw this in the garbage,” she said. “But that's clearly not the ethical thing to do. We have a shortage right now, and we're in the middle of a pandemic. The just thing to do, what’s equitable to do, is put that in somebody's arm. If that's a 19-year-old kid who happens to be buying something at the CVS, get that person the dose if they want it.”

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A. today, and stay safe out there.

What Else You Need To Know Today

  • LAUSD’s superintendent suggested that a return to school is on the horizon, despite pushback from the local teachers’ union.
  • Long Beach is getting a jump on the rest of the state in offering COVID-19 vaccines to people with disabilities.
  • County officials will debate whether to increase funding for the 9-1-1 alternative, L.A. Versus Hate, in the wake of increased hate crimes against Asian Americans.
  • As schools try to work out return plans for students who have been out during the pandemic, how are families feeling?
  • Kaiser Permanente opened a mass vaccination site at the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds in Lancaster.
  • A judge will allow Burbank officials to shut down Tinhorn Flats, a Western-themed bar and restaurant that has flouted COVID-19 safety protocols.
  • Catch up with comedian and "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" co-creator Rachel Bloom. Geek out at a Caltech lecture on the Perseverance Rover that's roaming Mars. Tune into LAist's TV Pilot Club as we re-examine "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." And more.

Before You Go … The L.A. Fro-Yo Joint That Employed Meghan Markle

Meghan Markle, then the Duchess of Sussex, attends the Commonwealth Day Service on March 9, 2020 in London. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images, strawberry swirl yogurt photo courtesy of Humphrey YogartPhoto, photo collage by Elina Shatkin)

Of all the frozen yogurt joints in all the towns in all the world, Meghan Markle worked at this one — Humphrey Yogart.

During Sunday night's interview with Oprah Winfrey, Markle mentioned that when she moved to Los Angeles, she worked at Humphrey Yogart. The nostalgic reference made many Angelenos smile. In the rest of the country (any maybe the world), people wondered: "Is that place for real?"

Yes, Humphrey Yogart is real — and it's spectacular.

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