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LA public schools unlikely to reopen campuses until January

LA public schools unlikely to reopen campuses until January
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Los Angeles public schools are not likely to reopen before January due to rising COVID-19 infections in one of the county's most extensive school districts.

L.A. Unified School District Board of Education President Richard Vladovic and Vice President Jackie Goldberg told the Los Angeles Times the return to school would likely happen sometime in January, citing safety and logistics concerns.

"If you look at a calendar, it would be difficult to do," said Vladovic about a mid-semester transition. "I think best-case scenario is there'll be some form of return in January, whatever that is."

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Goldberg listed additional hurdles that could get in the way of a smooth return to in-person learning, such as the array of students who would need to remain in distance-only education and cited concerns from teachers with health issues returning, which could put them at-risk of contracting COVID-19.

"This is finals time for the high-schoolers and the end-of-the-semester assessments for all the other grades,"
Goldberg said. "Why would we want to go back in December? Which would be probably the earliest we could possibly go. ... This is the wrong time to do that."

Both Vladovic and Goldberg spoke for themselves, not on behalf of the whole district.

The district, L.A. Unified, is working on providing waivers allowing some students to return to class, including students with special needs who are much more reliant on in-person education programs.

Several LA County districts and private schools have offered limited enrollment in physical classes at this time, though Unified is currently in negotiations with the United Teachers LA union to increase services.

L.A. Unified is the second largest school district in the U.S., the Times reported.

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Parent Danna Rosenthal, a mother of a student with special needs, said she would like to see a return to schools "even if it means three weeks before the end of the semester."

She said her kids are suffering from mental health problems, depression and anxiety.

"They miss their friends, they miss routine, they miss seeing their teacher in person. Lastly, neither one is putting the same kind of effort into their work," Rosenthal said.

L.A. Unified said it is working to accelerate its availability for peer-to-peer tutoring online and in-person, which is permissible under California state rules regarding pandemic procedures.