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Morning Brief: LAUSD Leadership Says Vaccinating Teachers Will Benefit Entire Communities

College banners hang above the offices of school staff. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
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Good morning, L.A. It’s Feb. 15.

On Friday, L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer expressed some optimism that the region might soon meet the requirements for reopening schools. The holiday surge is leveling off, she said, and daily transmission is down from early January.

“I do believe that very shortly, L.A. County will in fact reach that metric ... where we'll have less than 25 new cases per 100,000 residents,” she said. “That will allow those elementary schools that want to reopen, to reopen.”

But if there’s one thing we’ve learned over the course of the past year, it’s that nothing is ever that simple. And while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidelines late last week for resuming in-person instruction, L.A. educators, legislators, administrators and parents have a lot left to work out.

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In early February, L.A. City Councilmember Joe Busciano introduced a motion to sue LAUSD in order to force them to reopen. District officials later called the move “political theater,” “grandstanding” and “hollow.”

In his weekly address last Monday, LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner compared politicians’ push to reopen to a Nike ad (they “told educators, ‘Just Do It,'” he said), and Dorothy’s famous wish to tap her heels together three times and be home. Instead, Beutner suggested a three-pronged plan for reopening: Implement safety protocols, something Beutner said is already complete; reduce the levels of COVID-19 in L.A. to meet state requirements; and vaccinate 25,000 elementary school teachers and staff members.

To put that last point in perspective, Dodger Stadium is capable of vaccinating 12,000 people per day, if doses are available.

Beutner made the point that by vaccinating staff and expediting the reopening of elementary schools, 250,000 children could return to classrooms, and nearly 500,000 of their family members may be able to return to work — or stop having to do two full-time jobs.

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

What Else You Need To Know Today

Before You Go … L.A.’s Lunar New Year Parade Goes Virtual

The Original Farmers Market celebrates the Lunar New Year with live music and cultural performances. (The Original Farmers Market)
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The annual Golden Lunar New Year Parade, traditionally held in downtown Los Angeles, went virtual this year.

The event started in the late 1800s as an effort to bridge racial divides at a time when Chinese immigrants faced intense discrimination. The Chinese Chamber of Commerce of L.A. hosts the celebration, which they say is the longest-running Lunar New Year parade outside of China.

This year's virtual celebration, which took place on Saturday, marked the 122nd parade here in L.A. A recording is available on Facebook Live.

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