LOS ANGELES—Los Angeles Unified is moving ahead with plans to reopen 61 elementary schools and 11 early education centers the week of April 12, requiring weekly COVID-19 testing for students and staff and enforcing rigorous safety standards, the superintendent announced Monday.
"To put this in perspective, these 72 schools we are opening the week of April 12 would be, by themselves, the eighth-largest school district in the state," Superintendent Austin Beutner said in his weekly address.
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 ahead of LAUSD and welcomed back some students Monday, 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.
Reopenings will be staggered 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.
Remaining elementary schools and early education centers will have their own staggered openings the week of April 19, and middle and high schools will open the week of April 26.
District officials emphasized that they will maintain rigorous safety practices and protocols, and all on-site students and staff will be required to receive weekly COVID-19 tests, including a baseline test the week prior to returning to school.
"Los Angeles Unified has implemented the highest standards of COVID safety of any school district in the nation," Beutner said. "We've upgraded air filters with the equivalent of an N-95 mask and reprogrammed the systems to circulate air 24 hours a day. Custodial staff is doubled to make sure schools are cleaned and disinfected top to bottom. And classrooms have been reconfigured to keep all at school safely apart. Staff have been trained and schools have been provided with adequate supplies of PPE."
Specific dates for the reopening of individual schools and grades were shared by school principals last week and can be found on Los Angeles Unified's website or individual school websites.
Schools are expected to share detailed information about schedules next week, including updated information for families who choose to have their children continue with online instruction.
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, 25% of families who participated in the survey said they'll return their students to campuses; and 35% of middle school families said they'll come back to the classroom.
To help expedite a return to in-person instruction, the LAUSD has been operating a large-scale vaccination site for education workers at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood.
Sen. Alex Padilla, D-California, visited the site Monday morning with Beutner and Jackie Slater, the Rams' Hall of Fame lineman. Padilla said with all Californians aged 16 and up set to be eligible for shots on April 15, people should make appointments as soon as they can.
"Please don't wait. Sign up for your appointment right away," he said. "... Supply will be there in the coming weeks and just a couple months."
Slater hailed the vaccination effort in the heart of Inglewood.
"This place is servicing this community in an area where this devastating and vicious virus is impacting people of color," Slater said.