The Los Angeles Unified School District plans to fully reopen classrooms for in-person learning in the fall, the district's superintendent said Monday.
Superintendent Austin Beutner announced the plan during a Monday morning briefing. Students who are unable to or choose not to attend in-person instruction will be offered an online option, he said.
The students will be on campus five days a week.
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Beutner said he expects the vast majority of students, teachers and staff to be at school every day starting in August, but there will be an online option for those who are unable or choose not to return to the classroom.
School campuses, which closed due to the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, began reopening again this spring on a limited or hybrid digital basis with rigorous safety standards in place, as well as a COVID-19 testing program. Vaccines are available for eligible students.
Beutner said it remains unclear what safety standards will still be required in the fall.
"We expect students and staff will continue to wear masks until more children have been vaccinated,'' he said. "But August is still three months away and we can't predict exactly what standards health authorities will tell us are appropriate at that time. ... While we have some sense of what school will look like, our COVID crystal ball is not perfect.''
In the meantime, district officials are encouraging everyone to get vaccinated. The announcement comes on the same day the district launched a vaccination program. The vaccination effort aims to vaccinate 300,000 students at 250 schools over 13 days.
"Ninety percent of people on a school campus at any point in time are children. Herd immunity won't be reached in schools or in the broader community until children are vaccinated,'' Beutner said about the district, which serves almost 650,000 students in schools spread across 710 square miles.
Of those students, almost 300,000 are ages 12 and older who are now eligible
for the vaccine.
The district is planning to offer vaccines at each middle and high school campus at least once before the school year ends on June 11 and again during the summer. To incentivize the shots, food trucks will provide refreshments for students and their family members, and schools where more than 30% of students are vaccinated will each receive $5,000 for projects at their school.
UCLA pediatrician Jennifer Brazier Peralta joined the superintendent during his weekly briefing this week to encourage all parents to consider vaccinating their children. She emphasized that children can unknowingly contract and spread the virus, just like adults.
"Children can still get very, very sick from COVID,'' she said. "Vaccination is one of the best ways to keep them safe and their families safe as well.''