As coronavirus cases slowly decline, elementary schools have received authorization to reopen in Los Angeles County.
According to NBC News, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has said that case numbers are set to reach 25 for every 100,000 people, which is the threshold for elementary schools to be reopened. “This encouraging news means that dozens of elementary schools will be permitted to reopen for in-class instruction for students grades TK-6 as early as this week,” the department said in a statement.
Los Angeles County is home to the second largest school district in the country, and only a month ago was in the midst of a surge that saw the county become the first in the nation to hit 1 million coronavirus cases. While schools can technically open as early as this week, they will first need to submit their reopening plans to the county public health department and the California public health department to ensure that they are taking all the proper safety and distancing measures when it comes to the virus.
CNN also reports that news of elementary schools potentially reopening came shortly after the Los Angeles Unified School District announced it had opened the first school-based vaccination site for staff and faculty. “Starting Wednesday, February 17, the Moderna vaccine will be administered by Los Angeles Unified school nurses and other licensed healthcare professionals at the Roybal Learning Center, becoming Los Angeles Unified’s first school-based vaccination center,” Superintendent Austin Beutner said.
The first doses will be administered to faculty and staff 65 years of age and over, and will proceed according to state and federal guidelines. “Microsoft, Anthem and Cedars-Sinai are also helping in this effort. We’re working to open as many school-based sites as possible,” Beutner added.
The subject of school reopenings has been one of the more complex issues to come as a result of the virus. Nationwide, we’ve seen legislators, educators, scientists, and even the students themselves all have different opinions on how a return to in-person learning should be handled.
In Chicago, a deal was struck between the teachers union and school district for a return to in-person learning, though not without heated debate. Even after the deal was reached, the union placed a vote of no confidence in Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
Last week, the CDC released a new series of guidelines on reopening schools that included proper mask wearing, hand washing, distancing, and a focus on providing vaccines for teachers, staff, and students.