Los Angeles public schools reopen after yearlong closure amid pandemic

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by Julia Pierrepont III, Gao Shan

LOS ANGELES, April 13 (Xinhua) — Dozens of schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) reopened Tuesday for in-person classes after a yearlong closure amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

LAUSD is the nation’s second largest school system, home to more than 600,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade at over 1,000 schools.

“Opening day! Great day for the students and families we serve,” tweeted LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner.

Sixty-one LA area elementary schools and 11 early education centers will reopen this week, beginning with the youngest students and working up to the eldest.

The remaining elementary schools and early education centers will have their own staggered openings next week, and middle and high schools will open the week starting from April 26.

The majority of 6.1 million students in California, the most populous state in the United States, have been studying remotely from home for over a year since the coronavirus lockdown began last March.

Now, parents will have the opportunity to choose whether to send their child back to school or to continue to have them learn remotely from home. Officials assure parents that their focus is on safety.

Kelly Gonez, president of the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education told Xinhua on Tuesday at Harding Street Elementary School, said “I was really impressed by the level of preparation both in terms of the safety protocols and all the things the teachers are doing in their classrooms to make students feel welcome and excited to be on campus for the first day.”

According to a survey released by LAUSD on March 22, 50 percent of elementary school parents wanted their children to return to school for in-person learning. Only 35 percent of middle school parents and 26 percent of high school parents wanted their children to go back to campuses.

Beutner and other school officials pledged that rigorous safety practices and protocols will be strictly maintained and all on-site staff and students will have to receive weekly COVID-19 tests, starting the week prior to returning to school and will need to log into the Daily Pass app on smartphones or online to fill out their daily health check form.

New COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations continued to decline in California in recent weeks. California Governor Gavin Newsom announced earlier this month that the state plans to fully reopen activities and businesses beginning June 15 as COVID-19 vaccinations remain widely available and hospitalizations associated with the virus continue to drop. Enditem

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