LOS ANGELES – The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to allow a limited number of schools to apply for waivers to offer in-person instruction for students in pre-kindergarten through 2nd grade.
Based on a motion by Supervisors Kathryn Barger and Janice Hahn, the county will offer waivers for up to 30 schools per week, prioritizing those with the highest number of low-income students who receive free or reduced-price school lunches. Waivers will be offered equally across all five county supervisorial districts, but if the cap is not reached in any given week, schools with the highest percentage of students qualified for lunch subsidies will be accommodated, regardless of location.
“All students are entitled to a free and appropriate education. For many of our students most at risk, distance learning is neither free nor appropriate,” Barger said. “It is critical that we begin the process of reopening our schools at limited capacity (and) slowly bring students, teachers and staff back to campus.”
Waivers will need to be approved by the state. More than 500 schools in the county have already partially opened to offer services to high-need students, but Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said few public schools are among them, something she wants to see change.
“You look at the list of schools that applied — more than half of them were private, many of them religious schools,” Kuehl said. “And nothing against private schools and religious schools, but the equity issue is very big here. I want us to be able to help our public schools get an advantage here, but also to be able to keep their students and their staff safe.”
This effort also asks the Department of Public Health to provide biweekly updates to the Board of Supervisors concerning the waiver process, compliance at reopened schools, suggestions regarding contact tracing workflow and efforts to improve the quality and quantity of data recorded regarding school exposures.
A copy of the motion can be found here.