Since the start of this spring semester, there’s been a slew of questions on the minds of many people: “When are we going to return to school? What precautions are being taken for hybrid learning? How long is online learning going to go on for?”
The University of California has announced a return to school in the fall semester of 2021, so it begs the question of what the reopening plan is in the LAUSD.
To begin, there’s been a surge of cases. The numbers of positive tests and hospitalizations continue to rise. Many believe the reason for the surge is the relatively new strain of COVID. First identified in the UK, it is known as CAL.20C. CAL.20C includes five types of mutations, and this iteration of the virus spreads extremely fast.
As for California schools reopening, current plans center around Governor Gavin Newsom's Safe Schools For All. Newsom's plan has four main premises to it - abundant funding, strong safety measurements, hands-on oversight, and accountability for all staff and families.
Newsom's strategy prioritizes bringing back the youngest, and therefore most vulnerable, students first, so as to build confidence in re-opening. Building up from there, more students will slowly be brought back in. In terms of testing, Newsom hopes to provide weekly testing, masks, and other resources for staff and students. Along with that, doctors and experts will lead everyone back into in-school learning. As far as funding goes, Newsom proposes allocating 2 billion dollars for testing, resources, and ventilation.
While many aspects of Governor Newsoms seem well thought out, many families of younger students express concern. Many parents are worried about the aspect of having the youngest students return to school first. Considering how young children are usually irresponsible with following rules, there’s a high possibility of them being exposed to COVID. Though Newsom promises the safety of students with his funding, the parents of LAUSD remain fearful.
For the LAUSD specifically, Superintendent Austin Beutner released a return to school plan with a hybrid schedule model, safety precautions, and communication plans. The LAUSD will implement the concept of hybrid learning by having students go onto campus for a certain amount of days and then attend online learning for the rest. By following hybrid learning, students would be able to receive in-person learning, while also being able to stay safe at home.
Beutner also disclosed some policies and health practices for the return to campus. This includes frequent opportunities to disinfect and wash hands, one direction hallways, postponed start times, and an upgraded filtration system. As for in classroom practices, students would be seated one per table, with half of a desk unoccupied. With a hybrid schedule only having a certain number of students on campus at once, and adequate social distancing, Beutner hopes to keep students and administration safe.
Though no plans for hybrid learning are set in stone, Beutner hopes to be as prepared as possible for when the LAUSD is cleared to begin on-campus learning. Along with campus plans, the LAUSD has covered student transportation and childcare. District provided transportation is to go on, with one child seated per row, skipping every other row. For childcare, one staff member is required for every 6 children, except for grades TK-8 which require constant supervision.
Again, no plans are proceeding yet. With COVID numbers changing every day, it's hard to come up with an estimate on when we’ll be back on campus. But for now, the plan given by Beutner and the district is the best to go off of. And as for us students? The best thing you can do to help is to remember to practice social distancing, wear your mask, and wash your hands as much as possible.