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LA County Releases Framework For Reopening Schools

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A task force of school district leaders from around Los Angeles County has just released a framework for reopening campuses.

The guidelines are just that – guidelines, not directives or orders. Ultimately, it's up to each of the 80 school districts in L.A. County to use the framework as they see fit as they each make their decisions about when and how to reopen.

Still, the framework paints a picture of school environments that could look very different from what we are used to, with screenings before boarding school buses, outdoor classes, "floor markings to illustrate social/physical distancing," students placed in "small, 'stable'" groups, classrooms with 16 students at most, staggered schedules – including lunch and recess, and face coverings for everyone.

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"LACOE is committed to the reopening of our schools, and we're going to ensure that we do everything possible to maintain safety and a strong educational program throughout LA County," county superintendent of schools Debra Duardo explained in a video introducing the documents.

Here are some highlights from the five focus areas:

  • Instruction: The framework offers three options: face-to-face (either one-on-one, or in a socially distanced classroom), hybrid learning (a mix of face-to-face and distance learning), and continuing with distance learning.
  • Health and Safety: Aside from maintaining 6 feet of social distancing, the framework also suggests districts consider requiring face masks, installing additional hand-washing stations, placing students in small, "stable" groups, and serving meals in a "non-congregate" — maybe even grab-and-go — way.
  • Social and Emotional: The framework suggests dedicating "significant time and resources upon school return to process and debrief the event," and offering mental health screenings.
  • Family and Community Engagement: Aside from bringing families into the decision-making process, the framework also recommends providing families with information about food and government assistance, as well as identifying the needs of vulnerable students.
  • Operations: The framework recommends districts consider identifying a single entry point for schools, to make sure everyone who comes is screened. It also proposes making hallways and staircases one-way to facilitate social distancing, removing and storing "extra furniture and materials from existing classrooms" to make more space wherever possible, and considering installing outdoor tents and establishing an "isolation room" for students or staff who may be sick. It also recommends frequent cleaning and disinfecting.

L.A. County school officials have scheduled a 10 a.m. briefing to discuss the framework.
At the state level, California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond is expected to provide an update at 9:30 a.m., and in yesterday's update, Governor Gavin Newsom promised his office will also issue "further guidelines" for schools, summer camps, and child care today.

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