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For LA Unified Students, Technical Hassles And A Cautious Return To Classes Amid Omicron Surge

Male high school students in hoodies and joggers stand in line on a sidewalk outside their high school.
Students at Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights wait to log onto a district mobile app so they can show proof of negative covid tests — and gain entrance to class.
(Josie Huang
LAist )
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For a first day back from winter break, the campus of Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights was noticeably hushed Tuesday morning.

Scores of students hung back from the school entrances on the sidewalks, their faces buried in their cell phones as they repeatedly tapped their screens trying to log onto the district’s mobile app Daily Pass.

The app, built for LAUSD, lets students book the COVID-19 tests required to return to school and — if they’re negative — produce a QR code to show staff so they can get to class.

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But with so many students visiting the site at once Tuesday, the app was stalling out and some reported hour-long waits to log on.

“It’s just like loading, loading the whole time,” said senior Daniel Flores, who first tried to use the app when he woke up around 7:30 a.m. More than an hour later, he was still waiting. “Sometimes, I even get an error.”

Still, the eight students interviewed by LAist treated the technical snafu as a minor inconvenience. The last time they could recall any major problem with Daily Pass was at the start of the school year when masses of students were logging on at the same time.

An L.A. Unified spokesperson says the system was overwhelmed but never crashed and the issues were worked out within a few hours.

Some students said preventing illness from COVID was a priority, as the omicron variant tore through the city. Of students recently tested for COVID, the positivity rate was nearly 17%, the district said Monday.

”Just hearing the recent COVID cases spiking up — it kind of gets me a little bit paranoid to be back,” said senior America Muñoz. “It really does take a toll on you because you want to be as safe as possible.”

Muñoz said she would be comfortable with going back to remote learning if it was deemed necessary. But sophomore Andrea Buenrostro would rather go through extra hurdles such as testing than return to online school.

“Here (at school), you could ask for help after class without feeling embarrassed like on Zoom if your microphone didn't work — or your video or internet,” Buenrostro said.

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A close up photo of the face of a young woman in a sweatshirt and mask.
Andrea Buenrostro, a sophomore at Roosevelt High, much prefers in-person classes to remote learning.
(Josie Huang/LAist)

Tuesday’s return to campuses was accompanied by the news that all athletic competition this week would be postponed and rescheduled because of the surge in covid cases.

The late Sunday announcement tempered senior Ramon Peraza’s excitement at being reunited with friends. The baseball player wondered aloud if the upcoming season could be canceled.

Close-up picture of face of teenage male in a black mask and hoodie.
Ramon Peraza hopes his covid won't wreck his baseball season — or the rest of his senior year at Roosevelt High School.
(Josie Huang/LAist)

“It's gonna suck,” Peraza said. “We played like seven games (sophomore year). Then COVID happened and then we didn't play at all.”

With the last couple years upended by COVID, Peraza said he and other seniors would really just like to finish out their high school careers actually physically in school.

What questions do you have about K-12 education in Southern California?
Kyle Stokes reports on the public education system — and the societal forces, parental choices and political decisions that determine which students get access to a “good” school (and how we define a “good school”).