Here's what to know about LAUSD's back-to-school COVID protocols

Denise Dador Image
Tuesday, August 10, 2021
What to know about LAUSD's back-to-school COVID protocols
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Parents will find some new changes when LAUSD opens next week, including additional safety protocols you'll need to know about.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Parents will find some new changes when LAUSD opens next week. Better air filtration, more frequent cleaning and additional safety protocols you'll need to know about before your child can enter the classroom.

After 33 years, Loreto Street Elementary school teacher Tita Ugalde expects the delta variant will present some of the biggest challenges of her career.

She believes the winning strategies that helped her become a champion disc golf player also applies to teaching first grade.

"You're thinking in different ways, kind of like in the classroom. There's always an obstacle. There's always a challenge," she said. "My number one job is to provide a safe environment for my students. If they're not safe, they can't learn."

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LAUSD'S medical director Dr. Smita Malhotra said the district has created multiple layers of protection starting with a mandatory baseline COVID-negative test result. It must be taken within two weeks of the start of school.

"Make sure that you've gone to one of our sites to get that test. You can make an appointment online because that will be required on the first day of school," she said.

Expect weekly testing. Last spring, it was only required among the unvaccinated.

"And now we're testing all students and employees regardless of vaccination status," Malhotra said.

Temperature checks are going away, but parents will need to complete a daily online questionnaire. Any symptoms detected at school will be considered COVID-19 until verified. And if a student should test positive, "we will determine when the positive cases and the close contacts can return to school," Malhotra said.

Masks must be worn indoors and outdoors. That includes athletes playing sports. Students medically exempt from wearing a mask will be tested twice a week. Malhotra said these protocols are among the strictest in the nation, which makes her feel confident about sending her own daughter to classes.

"School is one of the safest places she could be right now versus taking her to the grocery store where those mitigation measures may not be in place," she said.

LAUSD is not issuing a vaccine mandate, but vaccines are strongly encouraged for those 12 and older.

"The greatest protection against the delta variant continues to be vaccination," Malhotra said.

Ugalde remains most concerned for those who remain unvaccinated.

Her students are too young to be eligible. But Ugalde said masking, handwashing and staying apart is now second nature for them. The pandemic has taught them diligence which is another game-winning strategy.

"Do we give up? No. Because persisting is a good habit of mind," Ugalde said. "The more prepared we are, the better we can cope with things."