Long Beach Unified K-5 students to return for on-campus school instruction in March

LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- Elementary school students in the Long Beach Unified School District will return to campus for in-person instruction on March 29, officials announced Wednesday.

"All K-5 teachers and school staff will have had an opportunity to be vaccinated with both doses before reopening," Mayor Robert Garcia said.

While vaccinations are not required, Garcia said the city made it a top priority to give educators the opportunity to get inoculated. As of Thursday, approximately 3,600 LBUSD employees have received the vaccine.

"We want to make sure that every teacher that wants to get vaccinated gets vaccinated so they're comfortable," said Dr. Christine Kelly, the president of the Teachers Association of Long Beach.

Long Beach Unified had initially planned to reopen its elementary school campuses by March 1 before the date was pushed back by one month.

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Experts from the CDC say that with the right mitigation measures, there is a path to low-risk, in-person learning.

Kelly said while many teachers are eager to get back into classrooms, there are still trepidations.

"There's a lot of fear surrounding this, so I was relieved they're not reopening March 1," she said.

Families that prefer to continue with at-home, online instruction will have the option of doing so. The district's middle and high schools will welcome students back during the second half of April.

"It's a four-day week," Superintendent Jill Baker said, referring to the first week back. "It's a time when we would expect that teachers would feel comfortable thinking about their own well-being with students and students' well-being."

The LBUSD's announcement comes after Los Angeles County opened the door for a return to campuses to happen even sooner. County officials this week said it was safe for elementary schools to reopen amid a decline in COVID-19 case numbers.

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