The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors passed a proposal Tuesday to assist schools across the county as they work to reopen and allow students to return to classrooms. The effort aims to address barriers that make it difficult for school districts in low income communities to meet the safety guidelines for reopening.
The motion approved Tuesday will mean the county will equitably distribute 1 million high-quality masks to the county’s 81 school districts and help connect school districts with funding for upgraded ventilation systems and information they need to set up testing programs. [View the motion here]
“Over the last year, we’ve learned a lot about how to keep teachers and students safe in elementary schools,” said Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. “Masks and adequate ventilation are very important which is why this motion focuses on those two elements. Nothing we do can bring COVID-19 transmission risk to absolute zero. Our focus now must be on reopening those sectors that can be safely reopened, vigilantly adhering to recommended protocols, so we can minimize the likelihood of transmission.”
On Feb. 16, cases in LA County dropped below the state’s threshold to allow schools to reopen for in-classroom learning for grades K-6. Schools are required to take steps to make classroom learning safer for teachers and students alike. This includes masking, adequate ventilation, regular testing, and contact tracing protocols.
As school districts have moved to reopen with plans to vaccinate teachers and other school staff starting March 1, public schools in lower income areas such as Lancaster and Palmdale, have found it difficult to overcome hurdles to reopening safely. A recent survey of 20 school districts in Los Angeles County demonstrated that schools in more affluent areas are moving faster to reopen than those in lower-income communities, according to Supervisor Janice Hahn.
“Our kids need to be back in classrooms and I don’t want any school to be unable to reopen because of a lack of resources,” Hahn said.