The statistical news on COVID-19 is still good this week: daily deaths and current hospitalizations have declined slightly…but there have been some small increases in new cases, as shown in these daily updates from the LA County Department of Public health over the last seven days:
Meanwhile, LA County will also begin vaccinating adults ages 50-65 on April 1, and appointments for this week are now available at https://carbonhealth.com/covid-19-vaccines/los-angeles. Appointments will open to everyone age 16 and up on April 15. (Note, though, that while Governor Gavin Newsom announced last week that family members who accompany those with vaccine appointments could also be vaccinated between April 1 and April 15, LA County said this would be allowed at only a couple of smaller county-run vaccination sites, not at the county’s larger venues.)
Finally, LAUSD is also moving ahead with its previously announced plans to re-open school classrooms on a gradual schedule during the month of April.
In his weekly address this morning, LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner said “We will open 61 elementary schools and 11 early education centers the week of April 12th. These were selected by a team of experienced administrators based on the school’s readiness to reopen and their locations in each of the communities we serve.” The remaining elementary schools and Early Education Centers will open the week of April 19, while middle and high schools will start to open on April 26.
According to Beutner, “Every elementary school in Los Angeles Unified will be offering a full-day, in-person instruction program for all students. Students will receive 3 hours of focused instruction in literacy, math, science and social studies, they will have recess with their classmates and eat lunch together. Students will also have the opportunity to receive help with their homework and to participate with friends in activities like painting, dance and yoga until 4:00 each day. We will also continue to provide one-on-one tutoring after school as well.”
Beutner also noted, however, that the phase-in will be gradual, to help all students acclimate to new procedures:
” In order to do this safely and smoothly, we’ll stagger the reopening of each school over several days. For example, an elementary school might see a quick check-in online for students with their teachers to start the day on April 12th. The remainder of the day students will work independently while all school staff – principals, teachers, bus drivers, librarians, counselors, custodians, cafeteria workers and many others – carefully review safety protocols and fine tune schedules.
Kindergarten and first grade students will return to school on the 13th, Grades 2 and 3 on the 14th and 4th and 5th Graders on the 15th. We’ll start with the youngest learners because many of them will be visiting school for the first time. This will help them get familiar with their routines.
The same, careful phased-in approach will be used for all schools during the course of the month. Our commitment has always been to reopen schools in the safest way possible and this very deliberate approach will help us to do so.”
Finally, Beutner reported that all students will be required to take a COVID test before they return to school, and will take weekly tests at their schools after they re-open. Also, he reiterated his previous message that vaccinating family members will be very important to the overall safety of schools, and that LAUSD schools are well prepared and well suited to help with that effort. “Vaccinating family members will enable more children to return to school without the fear of bringing the virus home to a grandparent,” Beutner said. “If vaccinations for family members of students from low-income communities are the barrier, let’s fix the problem. Schools can help with access to COVID vaccinations for the families we serve.”
Beutner said two schools, Lincoln and Washington Preperatory High Schools, will be the first to offer on-site vaccinations for LAUSD families, and appointment scheduling information will be available soon in those communities.