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LAUSD Unveils Roadmap To Reopen Campuses -- But It Won’t Go Into Effect Just Yet

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At a Nov. 10, 2020 meeting of the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education, district administrators walked through the next steps in the Return to Campus Plan. (Screenshot of LAUSD Board meeting)
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With the coronavirus cases increasing in Los Angeles County, the Los Angeles Unified School District will not be able to return to in-classroom instruction until January – at the earliest.

Still, the district has been planning for the eventual return to campus, whenever that might be.

Superintendent Austin Beutner and Local District South Superintendent Michael Romero updated the members of the district’s board of education on the status of those plans at Tuesday’s meeting. An important caveat: L.A. County must move off the state’s most restrictive coronavirus tier -- and remain there for at least two weeks -- before anything can go into effect.

Here are some of the highlights.

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TIMELINE

Next week, the district and schools will host virtual town halls and meetings, and will share a “Return to Campus Program Overview” with LAUSD families via email, text, and physical mail, both in English and in Spanish.

The district will offer two options: hybrid — meaning students will spend some of their time learning in-person at the school site, and some time learning online — or online-only.

Families will get a survey asking if parents would like their children to go back to school in a hybrid format (more about that in a second), or if they’d prefer continuing with s online-only learning.

Romero told the board that families will have until the day before Thanksgiving to let the district know which option they’d prefer.

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WHAT WILL A SCHOOL DAY LOOK LIKE?

On Tuesday, Romero explained to the board that negotiations with district employees over what exactly the hybrid model would look like are continuing “the next couple days,” though he thinks “we’re getting close.” LAist reached out to United Teachers Los Angeles for comment on the status of negotiations.

Students could be sorted into cohorts, with some students in the classroom in the morning, and others in the afternoon. Or those cohorts could alternate whole school days, on and off campus.

Either way, Superintendent Beutner said “we will take care of your child all day – all day in a classroom, all day with other supervised support.”

“It allows children to be with their classmates, and continue to learn in a school environment – even if it's not with their teacher,” Beutner told the board. “And we can support a family all day, the entire school day so that working families can go to work.”

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Romero said LAUSD is expecting “a large number of our students” to choose the virtual-only option.

SAFETY PROTOCOLS

According to a safety video shown at the meeting, the district will be focusing on “three S’s”- screening (all students and employees will get checked for fever and asked about symptoms), sanitizing (including hand sanitizer and electrostatic misters), and social distancing (including reorganized classrooms, stickers making some hallways one-way).

WHAT ABOUT WAIVERS?

While Los Angeles County remains in the state’s most restrictive coronavirus tier, no schools within the county — district, charter, or private — can fully reopen their K-12 schools for in-classroom instruction.

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There are two ways that schools can partially reopen:

  1. They can welcome up to 25% of their enrollment back for specialized services for students with the most need of in-person support.
  2. They can apply for a waiver to reopen classes for the youngest learners, grades TK-2.

At a town hall Monday night, Beutner explained to parents and LAUSD Board Member Nick Melvoin why applying for a waiver to reopen for grades TK-2 is not part of the district’s reopening plan.

For one thing, he said, the district has more than 400 schools and the county health department is only approving a couple dozen waivers a week.

“So we don’t fit,” he said. “But it’s mostly an issue of health and safety.”

Beutner said if it’s not safe to bring K-12 students back to school generally, then he interprets that to mean it’s also not safe to bring the district’s youngest grades back, even with a waiver from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

In a different town hall also on Monday night, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer told parents and Los Angeles County Office of Education Superintendent Debra Duardo that among the 1,500 schools that have reopened for students in need of specialized, in-person services and the 74 schools with approved TK-2 waivers, “we only have 10 schools that have seen ... either three or four cases. Only one school has seen nine cases.”

READ MORE OF OUR COVERAGE OF THE RETURN TO SCHOOLS:

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