Yesterday, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health announced two long-awaited COVID-19 reopening developments: 1) that schools will be able to offer some “limited, on-campus operation” for their most vulnerable student (including those with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), those who speak English as a Second Language (ESL), and those requiring “assessments or specialized in-school services”)…and 2) that barber shops and salons will once again be allowed to offer some indoor services. Both announcements, though, do come with strict criteria.
According to yesterday’s directive, LA County will not yet offer a Kindergarten-6th grade waiver program, as had been previously OK’d at the state level, but not the County level…but starting on Monday, September 14, K-12 schools can offer in-school services for small groups of students with IEPs, those requiring ESL instruction, and those who need special assessments and services, “as long as the school is able to fully implement the Health Officer’s re-opening protocols.”
According to the LA Times, “about 13%, or 64,500” of LAUSD students are “classified as having a significant disability in 2019. About 123,500 students are learning to speak English proficiently.”
The Times story also cautioned, however, that there are still issues to be addressed before even this level of re-opening can continue:
“While the county’s rules are meant to prioritize safety, they don’t guarantee that a school system will be ready to open for these small classes. L.A. schools Supt. Austin Beutner has noted in past statements that he, like many district employees, would fall into a high-risk category and that he wouldn’t ask employees to take a risk he would be unwilling to take himself.
Another unknown on Wednesday was the extent to which a district’s labor groups would have to sign off on plans to bring students back on campus. L.A.’s teachers union — and unions in many other school systems — only recently completed an agreement on the rules for distance-only learning. Rules for a return to campus will require a separate round of negotiations.”
Salons and Barber Shops
Meanwhile, hair salons and barber shops can immediately begin offering indoor services with limited occupancy (25% of normal capacity), as long as they are in compliance with other current protocols. At the same time, though, these businesses are also encouraged to “continue outdoor operations when possible, and to offer in-door operations for those services that cannot be provided outdoors.”
As we expected, our local salons and barber were thrilled with this news, and resumed indoor services almost immediately. For details, see our separate story here.
While the two announcements yesterday were a step forward, LA County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer also cautioned against re-opening too many other things too soon.
“Right now, a cautious and titrated reopening – with close monitoring of what happens to our data in the weeks to follow – is needed to ensure we are not experiencing significant spikes in cases, hospitalizations and deaths, as we saw in July after re-openings and holidays,” Ferrer said. “As we slowly reopen sectors, we will watch closely how it is impacting community transmission. The longer our county’s 7-day average case rate remains above 7, as determined by the State, the longer we will remain in the State’s most restrictive Tier. In addition, once both our 7-day average case rate and 7-day average positivity percentage meet the criteria for Tier 2, they must stay there for at least two weeks before we can be moved to the next less restrictive Tier.”
For moree information on LA County Reopening Protocols, current case and infection rate data, and much more, see the LA County COVID-19 dashboard at http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/media/Coronavirus/data/index.htm
And for more information on the new tier system in which all California counties are classified for current COVID-19 risks and re-opening protocols, see https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/COVID19CountyMonitoringOverview.aspx
You can find LA County’s tier status and a full list of what is and isn’t allowed to open at this time, at https://covid19.ca.gov/safer-economy (type “Los Angeles” into the county search line). Currently, we are still at the purple, or “widespread” threat level, with a case rate greater than 7 per 100,000 people, and a positive test rate greater than 8% (the two most important metrics for classification.)
Finally, here are the current COVID-19 case and death counts for our local Buzz-area neighborhoods: