LAUSD expected to remain closed for near future while some area schools reopen

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Los Angeles Unified School District Austin Beutner superintendent says there are no current plans to reopen schools for in-person learning anytime soon. Meanwhile, students at several Southland schools were returning to the classroom Tuesday.

Beutner said his city remains an epicenter for COVID-19 and conditions must improve before schools can reopen. The superintendent continues to question the different messaging he says he's getting from state and local leaders.

"It's hard to be confident we're somehow safer today than we were back in December when health authorities told us similar virus levels put us in dire straits. And it was only a couple of weeks ago that hospitals were overrun and health authorities were telling us 'the devastating impact of the pandemic is about to collapse emergency medical care,'" Beutner said.

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An effort to reopen schools in California is floundering, stoking the frustration of parents and Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The superintendent said teachers in the second largest school district in the country must be vaccinated before schools can reopen.

"I'm asked every day by hundreds of teachers, 'When do you think we can get the vaccine?' And all I say is, 'I don't know,'" said Beutner, noting that it is impractical to negotiate with teachers on a reopening plan that was still under debate in the Legislature and is likely to change.

Beutner criticized the state for prioritizing the opening of card rooms and malls when students are still remote.

Meanwhile, schools in El Segundo, Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach were reopening Tuesday for students in transitional kindergarten through second grade following new health safety protocols.

The El Segundo Unified School District -- with less than 3,000 students, far fewer than the over 600,000 students enrolled in LAUSD -- will resume in-person hybrid instructions for transitional kindergarten through second grade students after the district's waiver to reopen for that age group was approved. Students will spend two-and-a-half hours on campus in the morning or afternoon four days a week.

Parents will have to use a health screen app each morning to verify their child has not tested positive for COVID-19 in the past two weeks and is not experiencing any symptoms. Students will have to undergo temperature checks and wear masks, and plexiglass barriers have been set up throughout classrooms.

According to El Segundo Superintendent Dr. Melissa Moore, new cleaning and sanitation systems are also in place. Moore said the next will be getting third graders back in school. L.A. County's current case rate does not allow for the return of fourth through 12th graders.

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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. But local educators are voicing concerns over bringing students and teachers back to the classroom.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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