Coronavirus Los Angeles: Schools grapple with COVID challenges as students prepare to return to class


LOS ANGELES (KABC) — Schools are planning a return to the classroom, and it’s bringing new challenges.

There could be last minute changes as the pandemic surges and drops.

“The pandemic hurt everyone, but it hurt some more than others,” said Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, who stresses it’s critical that students stay in the classroom.

“In-person learning, there’s no substitute for that, and yes we needed to close schools to try to take stock of this pandemic, but we now have the tools, the resources, the funding to help mitigate some of the challenges of the pandemic better so that our students can thrive in our schools and be in person where they belong,” he said.

According to the California Department of Public Health, vaccination rates for young kids are low. Three percent of children under the age of five and 36% of kids 5 to 11 have received at least one dose.

That’s compared to 72% of kids 12 to 17.

“There remains uncertainty around the trajectory of this pandemic,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the director of the Los Angeles County Department of Health.

As cases go up in L.A. County and elsewhere, we could see a return of the indoor mask mandate. Officials said what could help in the future are upgrades to improve air circulation.

“We’re hoping that CAL-OSHA and federal OSHA also take a really good look at what we could all do to improve indoor air quality at our worksite and at our schools,” said Ferrer.

As health officials prepare, parents are getting ready to restart their back-to-school routines.

A backpack giveaway hosted by LA Care and Blue Shield of California was held in Lynnwood Friday.

“There’s such a need, especially given COVID for families to receive these type of resources,” said Candace Nafissi.

Parents who attended are already thinking about how they’ll deal with a new school year.

“My daughter is really going start this year, so it’s something new for her, I don’t know what to expect,” said parent Conni Valente. “We trust in God and teachers and schools, and they have a great safety system going on so we’re following the guidelines and I think will all be okay.”

The first day of school for the Los Angeles Unified School District, the largest district, is Aug. 15.

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