Return to School Update

Courtesy of Richmond Community Service

Courtesy of Richmond Community Service

Sai Varshini Gutta

According to UNESCO, about one billion students have been affected by Covid-19 and forced into distance learning. Multiple districts, cities, states, and countries are still struggling to get students back to school. Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is one of them. Even though our school is in the William S. Hart School District, our district tends to follow LAUSD guidelines.

One of the biggest questions that we all have is when are we going back to school? California has a blueprint for reducing COVID-19. It is a tier list for loosening and tightening restrictions on activities, such as going back to school. There are five tiers in the blueprint: purple, red, orange, and yellow. Purple is widespread, red for substantial, orange for moderate, and yellow for minimal. The purple tier is the worst and the yellow is the best tier to be in. LA is currently in the purple tier. Schools in the Widespread (purple) tier aren’t allowed to reopen for in-person instruction until they move down to the red tier and stay in the red tier for 2 weeks straight.

There are also some requirements that The Governor of California put out for schools reopening in counties:

  1. The county must be off the watchlist for at least 14 days

  2. Masks are required to be worn by staff, teachers and students in third grade and above. Students in second grade and below are strongly encouraged to have masks on.

  3. Staff must maintain a six feet distance between each other and students.

  4. Screening will happen at the beginning of the day. Hand washing stations, sanitation and disinfection protocols will be required. There will be regular testing for staff and state-wide contact tracing

  5. Distance learning must be equally available to all students

But there is another question of how schools would be closed again. There is a set of guidelines for closing schools also. The requirements:

  • If 5% of the school tests positive, the school must close

  • If 25% of schools in the district are closed within a two-week period, the entire district must close

The guidelines of reopening for SCV and LA schools are shown below:

  • Stage 1: Online learning model for all students

  • Stage 2: Blended learning and school-based online exclusive model offered to all students

  • Stage 3: Expanded blended learning and school-based online exclusive model offered to all students

  • Stage 4: Full return to campus model offered to all students and long term learning post academy exclusive online model offered to all students

Testing is another big question in our heads. In an update given by the superintendent of LAUSD on Monday, October 19 it was said that LAUSD is doing a Covid-19 testing program for all students and staff in order to understand the prevalence of Covid-19. The program costs 150 million dollars overall and 300 dollars per student for a whole year. One of LAUSD partners: HeathNet is offering free seasonal flu vaccinations for schools. According to CBS Los Angeles there is a new Microsoft app in development that will be used to help students fill out daily Covid symptom surveys and let them into schools. The app will show whether the student tested positive for the virus or not. The superintendent said that all information is highly confidential and can only be seen by administrators, health authorities and scientists.

Currently LAUSD and Rio Norte are accepting waivers that let high-need students and english language learners on campus for extra assistance. But all other students and staff are still not permitted to be back for in-person classes. In a letter sent to staff and parents the Superintendent for William S. Hart School District has said that the next realistic date of when schools are going to reopen is January 11, 2021. This means that we won’t be going back to school until next year at the beginning of second semester and that’s if things go according to plan.

Schools struggled to get students into online learning and now they are struggling to get them out of it and into schools safely. Many questions remain unclear and the road ahead isn’t looking so smooth. Stay safe, and stay strong Riverhawks!