HIGHLAND PARK, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Despite the current surge in COVID-19 cases across the country and California, the state is still on course to reopen schools for in-person learning in the fall, its top educator said Friday.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond visited Monte Vista Elementary School in Highland Park to tour the school and meet the staff working for LA's BEST summer learning program.
This comes as a rise in cases is seen across much of the state, with increases in infections led by the highly transmissible delta variant that has proliferated since California fully reopening the economy June 15. The vast majority of new cases are among unvaccinated people.
"Obviously, we have to continue to monitor every single day what case rates, what the variant is doing, but the CDC and the California Department of Public Health have already provided guidance that even as case rates increase, if everyone is wearing a mask and everyone who can get a vaccine gets one, we can keep our schools open safely," Thurmond said.
Children under 12 years old still cannot get vaccinated, which means elementary schools could be COVID-19 hot spots. The numbers don't look promising for students over the age of 12.
L.A. County Director of Public Health Dr. Barbara Ferrer on Friday said only 39% of those 12 to 17 years old are vaccinated.
"That's definitely not enough to sort of create any kind of immunity benefits when students are back in school," Ferrer said.
The L.A. County School Board says students will be wearing a mask 100% of the time, but if infection numbers drop enough, masks won't be required outside of school buildings at middle and high schools.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.