Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner discussed Monday morning efforts to reopen campuses during a virtual address to the school community. He said LAUSD students are not expected to return to schools for in-person before November.
"One challenge is to create a school schedule which balances the learning needs of students with the health practices we'll need to maintain in schools," he said, adding that the issue will be "most acute" in secondary schools.
WATCH: LAUSD superintendent gives update on efforts to reopen schools, provide free flu vaccinations
Beutner said as most elementary schools students share the same teacher for most of the day, efforts will be made to "establish a small health cohort to help isolate risk from spreading the virus." However, for high schools, given the class sizes and schedules, students can come in contact with more people, increasing the risk of spread in secondary schools.
"This will not be simple to solve and will require some compromises on what in-person instruction can be offered to students at schools. We've a team of people working to develop the best solution we can," he said.
Los Angeles County is in the "purple" tier for waivers that would allow them to conduct in-person learning if they meet certain health requirements to limit the spread of COVID-19.
L.A. County remains in the most restrictive level, with 991 new cases of COVID-19 and 23 more deaths, bringing the county's totals to 260,797 cases and 6,353 fatalities reported this weekend. The state threshold for advancing to the "red'' tier is seven cases per 100,000.
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Beutner also discussed LAUSD's COVID-19 testing program, which he said has finished its first full week.
"We've provided almost 15,000 tests to staff who are currently working at schools and their children who are in childcare. We expect the relatively low occurrence of the virus thus far to increase a bit as we test more people who have not had access to testing but the initial results are encouraging," he said.
The superintendent also said the district will soon offer free seasonal flu vaccinations for when a student or staff member receives their COVID-19 test. An exact date on when flu vaccinations will be made available was not released.
Meanwhile, in Orange County, state guidelines are allowing schools to reopen Tuesday as the county has gone 14 days without exceeding seven new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people.
However, many district have decided to push their start dates back, with some planning a phased return with a hybrid online and in-person format to allow for physical distancing.
The Fountain Valley School District will open elementary schools Tuesday, though. The school will have an a.m.-p.m. hybrid schedule, and middle schools will operate on a rotating-day hybrid schedule with half of the district's students beginning in-person classes Thursday and the other half on Friday.
Orange Unified School District is offering the opportunity for students to continue distance learning exclusively or transition back to in-person classes.
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According to the Orange County Board of Education, districts that are returning in a phased approach this week also include Cypress elementary students, the Irvine Unified School District and the Tustin Unified School District (PreK - 5th grade.)
Mater Dei, a private high school, is also reopening this week with a modified hybrid model.
Schools have to ensure physical distancing, and other safety measures such as face coverings.
Orange County Public Health Officer Dr. Clayton Chau says students still have the option to learn online if they're not comfortable in class.
Some districts are waiting. The Anaheim Union High School district says learning remains online, while it's monitoring the number of COVID-19 cases. So far, it has no date for returning to in-person instruction.
The same goes for the Santa Ana Unified School District.
Los Alamitos Unified returned to in-person classes earlier this month. Chau says so far, there are no reports of COVID-19 cases among students or staff.
A group of teachers, parents and community members gathered Sunday to protest schools reopening in Orange County.
A caravan of vehicles drove around, with protesters voicing their objections to Newport-Mesa Unified School District's plan of students returning to campuses Sept. 29.
Some educators are arguing that distance learning is providing structure and a strong curriculum for children, adding a plan must be in place to ensure a safe transition to in-person instruction.
For the latest news on back to school and educational resources, visit abc7.com/backtoschool.
A previous version of this story stated that LAUSD received 59 applications for schools to reopen for students with special needs. This information has since been removed because LAUSD says its schools were not involved.