LAUSD reopens after winter break with thousands of students absent due to COVID

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Los Angeles Unified School District students returned to class on Tuesday amid a new record surge of COVID-19 cases in the county.

More than 65,000 students are staff are not immediately returning to campuses after testing positive recently for the coronavirus. Many others are not returning yet because they didn't take the test in time.

Many reported having problems with the district's daily pass system which tracks testing information and helps clear students to return.

"I know my husband is having problems with my daughter," said Sylmar parent Laura Lopez. "He still can't get in."

More than 65,000 LAUSD students, employees test positive for COVID
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According to the district, as of 4 p.m. on Monday, 424,230 students and employees have taken a baseline COVID test. Of that group, 65,630 of those tests have come back positive.

Interim Superintendent Megan Reilly said the testing and safety protocols represent a new normal for the district.

"LA Unified maintains the highest COVID-19 safety standards of any public school district in the nation," Reilly said. "Including weekly testing of all staff and students, universal masking indoors and outdoors."

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who appeared with Reilly at a Sylmar middle school Tuesday, noted that students at schools have access to healthcare resources as well as testing and vaccines.

"The schools are the safest place you can have your children right now," Garcetti said.

The district still maintains remote learning as an option for students.

Lopez says she hopes the school campuses remain open, as her son finds more success in-person.

"My son especially has so much trouble with distance learning," she said. "Him back on campus - his grades are back up. I wouldn't like the distance learning."

Reilly also said the district has been able to fill a teacher shortage, but staffing for buses remains a problem. Some routes are taking longer than normal and she urged parents to be patient.

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