The LA Unified School District conducted a survey. The results? It showed that only 50 percent of families agreed to traditional classroom setups. This number comes from elementary school representatives. Assuming the other 50 answers, the district will only allow thirty-three percent capacity. The rest will continue with their online class setups.
Convincing parents that schools are already safe is a challenge the LAUSD has to face. Part of the transition includes educating parents. The campaign for information dissemination was both done via email and mail. Superintendent Austin Beutner will start bringing back students by April. The first batch will act as a pilot test. Once successful, the rest of the students can go back a week later.
Beutner assured parents that the schools come equipped with upgraded air filtration systems. MERV-13 filters, equivalent to N95 masks, ensure pathogens don’t spread. Weekly COVID tests are part of the procedure. The assurance was a response to educators demanding health security. The staff wasn’t too happy with going back to educational facilities unless vaccinated. This wasn’t only limited to LAUSD. Teachers and school staff enforced their demands to which the state responded to.
Fifty percent are in agreement to continue traditional classroom setups. This isn’t a guarantee that 50 percent will go back to school. Only thirty percent will see classrooms. The few “lucky” students will see a change in the classroom environment. There will be obvious differences in distance. The distancing protocol will be easier, with desks distanced at 6 feet. The CDC recommends 3 feet but LAUSD will standby its decision that it made with UTLA.
There’s also one way of ensuring an infection doesn’t spread throughout an establishment. This is by using controlled paths. Hallways will have markings and most of these pathways will only have one direction. This also helps with tracing the source of a possible infection.
There are other measures to lower the risk of infection. One involves setting a threshold for time spent in a classroom. Students can opt to have their classes in the morning or in the afternoon. Classes will have a three-hour threshold. For students who got accustomed to Zoom classes, there will be a minor difference. Zoom or video conferencing is in implementation over face-to-face interactions. Students will have their own school supplies to avoid viral transmission.
The quarantine procedures will also find implementation in the restrooms. Prior to entering school premises, students have to undergo daily health checks.
LAUSD also looks after its staff. Working parents have a chance to spend time with their kids on campus.
These procedures are custom fit for elementary students. Middle schoolers are not required to attend school 5 days a week. They only need to come to class three days a week. Zoom will be the standard tool for conducting classes to limit face-to-face interactions. Each classroom will have 12 students at most.
At 12 students per classroom, the number is too low. Expectations for the number of high school and middle school students are higher. In a report last year, a majority of parents prefer that their kids stay at home for school. A smaller percentage disagree with the online setup. They claim that classroom setups have their benefits. Superintendent Beutner’s belief aligns with the parent’s perspective. A separate report says otherwise. Some parents and their kids are struggling with the online learning setup.
Regardless, LAUSD will push through with its plans to welcome back students. An extension of the academic year is in discussion – it’s likely that classes would have to start in August.