Los Angeles County elementary schools can reopen as COVID-19 cases drop

However, the teachers union wants vaccinations before a return to the classroom.

February 16, 2021, 3:03 PM

Los Angeles County elementary schools will be allowed to reopen for in-person learning after hitting an expected COVID-19 milestone Tuesday.

"The state permits elementary schools to reopen as soon as we reach an adjusted case rate of 25 per 100,000," the LA County Department of Public Health said in a statement Monday. "We are informing Los Angeles County schools tonight via an emailed letter that we expect to announce we have reached this threshold effective Tuesday, February 16."

All schools that want to reopen must submit plans to the county and state health departments showing that they've put sufficient safety measures in place before they'll be permitted to resume in-person classes.

"Thank you to everyone who has worn your masks and kept your distance," Janice Hahn, Los Angeles County supervisor, wrote on Twitter on Monday. "Case rates in LA County are dropping. Now we can continue the work getting our kids and teachers safely back in classrooms where they belong," she added.

"This is what we have been working towards," Hahn wrote.

On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidelines on schools reopening that said with proper mitigation measures, schools should be able to safely do at least some in-person learning.

PHOTO: Paul Habans Charter School handed out supplies including food, books and computers to students and the community, when Louisiana schools closed due to the spread of coronavirus in New Orleans, La., March 17, 2020.
Paul Habans Charter School handed out supplies including food, books and computers to students and the community, when Louisiana schools closed due to the spread of coronavirus in New Orleans, La., March 17, 2020.
Chris Graythen/Getty Images, FILE

LA's teachers union, United Teachers Los Angeles, pushed back on the CDC's recommendation on the grounds that the guidelines don't do enough to address challenges in large urban districts like Los Angeles. "Most troubling is that it does not require vaccinations for school staff, six-foot distancing in all schools, nor improved ventilation as a key mitigation measure," UTLA said in a statement.

Vaccinating teachers before schools reopen has been a sticking point for union members. "Embedded in our bargaining framework are the components of a safe return," Cecile Myart-Cruz, UTLA's president, told ABC's Los Angeles station KABC-TV.

One of those key components is "vaccines for all educators and school staff," Myart-Cruz added.

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