After Los Angeles Unified School District schools have been closed for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, LAUSD and United Teachers Los Angeles have reached a tentative agreement on the plan to reopen high schools for in-person learning. UTLA members are voting on the agreement from March 18 to 21.
“My initial reaction was kind of mixed,” sophomore Angela Ledesma said. “I definitely want schools to reopen [because] I miss the contact I had with people, but I’m a bit scared [and] a bit worried about going back to school because my parents are high risk.”
LAUSD plans to reopen middle and high schools, including Daniel Pearl Magnet High School, for in-person instruction by the end of April or early May and plans to open elementary schools by April 19. High schools will follow a hybrid model where students will attend school two or three days a week. Students will be split into groups and will stay in one classroom with their advisory teacher the entire day. According to a schedule by LAUSD, each group will receive instruction virtually from their regular teachers. However during advisory class, students will participate in “in-person community building.”
“You’re pretty much Zooming from campus,” DPMHS Principal Armen Petrossian said. “It pretty much gives students an opportunity to reconnect with other students. It gives opportunities to have social-emotional learning.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, returning to school in-person in April will be completely optional for students and families will have the option to continue using the distance learning model.
“I don’t want to go back [to school in-person],” Ledesma said. ”I’m worried that if I pick anything up, I don’t want to spread it to my family members. That’s not something that I would prefer to do for their safety and my safety as well.”
Families can prepare for the reopening by filling out the LAUSD Return to Campus Program Selection Form by March 19. The survey will allow for LAUSD to plan and prepare for students’ return to school.
“When you’re away from something, coming back is not easy for anyone,” Petrossian said. “My advice to families is for parents to start having those conversations with the students.”
In order for the reopening to take place, all staff must have access to the COVID-19 vaccine and schools must follow safety protocols, according to a March 9 statement by LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner. Los Angeles County must also remain in the red tier when it comes to the number of COVID-19 cases, which it reached today. LAUSD will also use a website and app called Daily Pass to monitor the health of individuals returning to campus in-person.
“I think we have to start somewhere,” said English teacher Ron Baer, who has received his first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. “If [reopening DPMHS] helps out any students by giving them a place to go now and that there’s some normalcy that comes back, I’m all for it. Getting fully vaccinated will make me feel somewhat safer [when] going back to the classroom.”
LAUSD will continue to update the public with information. Reactions to the plans have been mixed but many members of the school community are optimistic.
“I am personally going to go to school [in-person],” senior Sophia Edwards said. “I am a procrastinator and I feel like it will be beneficial. What makes me excited is having a place besides my house to have some motivation to get my work done.”