Wave Staff Report
LYNWOOD — Three-year-old Bruce Naranjo safely exited his vehicle for a temperature check before excitedly walking through the Lindbergh Elementary School entrance to begin his Early Childhood Education program.
He isn’t old enough to understand the significance of attending school during a pandemic, but as the Lynwood Unified School District reopened its doors to small groups of high-needs students and families, he shares in the renewed optimism felt in the community.
“It’s his first year, so he’s happy to be at school. He comes home to show me his work and tell me about his new friends,” said Virginia Naranjo, Bruce’s mom. “It’s such a different experience for the students to be at school. They miss a lot at home.”
Following the county’s progression to allowing small and specialized groups to return to campuses, Lynwood Unified opened limited slots of early childhood education at Lindbergh for families of essential workers. Three classrooms are available to students, with 10 per class, for a maximum school capacity of 30.
The district also has restored limited in-person elementary education for resource specialist program students and those in need of speech services. Classrooms are available at nearly all of the district’s 12 elementary school sites.
Sports for Learning, a nonprofit organization, provides instruction, outdoor play and social-emotional learning for early childhood students, while Think Together will be providing enrichment for older students in the coming weeks.
“Watching our children enter our campuses with smiles on their faces is a thrilling reminder of the need for in-person instruction,” LUSD Superintendent Gudiel R. Crosthwaite said. “This is a small step toward safely reopening schools to serve students through the onsite learning we know they deserve.”
Los Angeles County remains at a tier 1 purple rating on the state’s four-tiered system that ranks the severity of each county. The county would need to advance to tier 2 for a period of two consecutive weeks to consider the process of larger reopening.
All Lynwood school sites have taken extra precautions to adhere to safety guidelines, including masks and social distancing. Each school is also provided a COVID kit that includes hand sanitizer, masks, shields, gloves, thermometers and disinfectant wipes.
The district continues to offer a full distance learning program to all students, which includes an Independent Study Virtual Academy that provides an alternative program and schedule for families who need unique support.
“We know that each family faces unique challenges during this time, so we’re working within our safety parameters to make sure we’re meeting those needs,” school board President Gary Hardie Jr. said. “We look forward to the day when we can welcome back all students.”
The community is also anticipating that day. That includes Soledad Bazan, a school bus driver whose goddaughter Angela Velasco is one of the early childhood education students who has returned to campus.
“She is so excited to be here. We’re all excited,” Bazan said. “We’re happy to be putting kids back in the classroom.”