LAUSD to require COVID tests for returning students

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Wave Wire Services

LOS ANGELES — Some schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District will reopen for in-person classes April 12, and families planning to send their kids back to school are being reminded that students must get a baseline COVID-19 test before returning and follow-up tests each week after.

As families help prepare their children for a return to school, we want to remind everyone about the details of our COVID-19 testing program at schools,” Superintendent Austin Beutner said April 5 during his weekly address. “Please make sure your child gets COVID tested sometime this week if their school is reopening the week of April 12.”

Rigorous new safety standards at schools include free coronavirus testing for students and staff on site each week at all 61 elementary schools and 11 early education enters set to open in stages starting April 12.

Remaining elementary schools and early education centers will open the week of April 19, and middle and high schools will open the week of April 26.

Reopenings will be rolled out at each school over several days, starting with the youngest students. Kindergarten and first-grade students will return to school April 13; grades 2 and 3 on April 14; and 4th and 5th graders on April 15.

Most of California’s 6.1 million students in 1,037 public school districts have been learning from home since last March because of the pandemic. Long Beach, Glendale, Downey and Manhattan Beach unified school districts are among those ahead of LAUSD, already welcoming back some students, with most schools operating on a limited schedule and prioritizing the youngest students.

LAUSD’s reopened elementary schools will offer three hours of focused work in literacy, math, science and social studies, as well as recess and lunch, in addition to homework help and enrichment activities such as painting, dance and yoga.

Families also may choose to continue online learning rather than going back to the classroom, and many have been hesitant to return their children to schools.

A survey of LAUSD families shows that 49% of elementary school parents want their kids to return to the classroom, with about three-quarters of responses in. Those who don’t participate in the survey will remain in online instruction.

At the high school level, only 25% of families who participated in the survey said they will return their students to campuses; and 35% of middle school families said they’ll come back to the classroom.

Our goal isn’t just to reopen schools — it’s to make sure we can open them in the safest way possible with all students there,” Beutner said. “Many families who have chosen to remain in online instruction tell us their primary concern is that their child might go to school and, however remote the possibility, bring the virus home to a family member in a multi-generational household,” Beutner said.

To help expedite the return to in-person instruction, the district is opening 25 school-based vaccination centers to serve families of LAUSD students. It also has been operating a large-scale vaccination site for education workers at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood.

The first two school-based sites for families opened April 6 at Washington Preparatory High School in South Los Angeles and Lincoln High School in Lincoln Heights in collaboration with St. John’s Well Child and Family Center. On April 9, the district will open a vaccination center at Gage Middle School with the help of Northeast Community Clinics.

The expansion of this effort to 25 school sites from just two we announced a week ago is made possible through a partnership with the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor and Northeast Community Clinics,” Beutner said. “We share a common goal to make sure all families with children in schools receive access to vaccinations to help their children return to school in the safest way possible.”

In the coming school year, Beutner noted that the district plans to spend more than $21,000 per student, which is going to require federal and local support.

It’s important to note it will take a collective effort including businesses, philanthropic and community organizations and all levels of government to help students recover and continue their progress,” he said.

For details about receiving a free vaccination at a school, the Family Vaccination Hotline is (213) 328-3958.

Los Angeles Unified testing centers are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week. For details, call the Family Hotline at (213) 443-1300.

LAUSD’s food distribution programs also will continue for those quarantined at home due to the virus or experiencing food or housing insecurity, with details available at lastudentsmostinneed.org.

Specific dates for the reopening of individual schools can be found on Los Angeles Unified’s website or individual school websites.

“Please make sure your child gets COVID tested sometime this week if their school is reopening the week of April 12.”

— LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner