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OC Public School District Says It Will Seek A Waiver To Reopen Elementary Campuses

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The Los Alamitos Unified School District has submitted an application to Orange County health authorities for a waiver to reopen its elementary schools.

Until now, all of the publicly announced waiver applications submitted to the Orange County Health Care Agency came from private schools. If approved by county and state public health officials, the Los Alamitos district would be cleared to begin some form of in-person instruction for about 3,600 students in preschool through 5th grade.

The waiver application process can take weeks. District Superintendent Andrew Pulver said all classes will be online when the school year begins on Aug. 31 while the application is under review.

To apply, the district had to write and execute a safety plan, and consult with teachers and staff, parents, and the community.

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The move to reopen elementary campuses drew mixed reaction. Some parents advocated fiercely for the reopening of the district's six elementary campuses. Others, like Elissa Frederick, are worried. Frederick, who has two elementary students and a high schooler in the district, sent an email to the superintendent listing her concerns with the district's proposed approach, and posted a copy to Facebook.

She said:

"I was very nervous to post it. I really thought I was gonna get attacked. And I was quite surprised — to the point of tears — with a lot of the messages and comments that I was getting."

Some area private schools included recent parent survey results as part of their waiver applications. Los Alamitos Unified did not.

The district did survey teachers, though: according to its waiver application, a little over 60% of elementary certificated staff supported the decision to apply.

It's unclear, though, how much parent or teacher support is needed to get a waiver approved or how much dissent is needed to get it denied. The official process as laid out by the state and county only calls for "consultation" with these groups.

Pulver said the district ultimately decided to apply for the waiver to give parents a choice.

"For those families who weren't comfortable with it, we have an option for them which is what we call 'Los Al at home' — it's a 100% virtual option," Pulver explained. "But what we didn't have was an option for families who were looking for something different than that."

We'll keep updating our maps and reporting on these waivers as we learn more from public records requests and readers like you.

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