County superintendent announces some elementary schools can reopen this week

First-grade teachers, Samantha Iblings, right, and Kristen Chapman socially distance as the plan their lessons in a classroom at West Creek Academy in Santa Clarita on Wednesday, 020321. Dan Watson/The Signal

Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and school officials announced “encouraging news” Monday for parents and students: Schools reopening could happen as soon as this week.

County officials noted the state permits elementary schools to reopen as soon as an adjusted case rate of 25 diagnoses per 100,000 people is reached, and that that threshold was reached Monday.

“TK-6 schools that have submitted their COVID-19 Safety Plans to the state at least seven business days ago are able to reopen as of tomorrow, Tuesday, Feb. 16,” according to a statement from Debra Duardo, superintendent for the Los Angeles County Office of Education. “Elementary schools that have not yet submitted their COVID-19 Safety Plans to the state and county will be allowed to reopen seven business days after they do so.”

The email also noted that the Department of Public Health would be sending additional information Monday evening.  

County Public Health officials confirmed the news in a separate statement Monday evening.

 “This encouraging news means that dozens of elementary schools will be permitted to reopen for in-class instruction for students grades TK-6 as early as this week.”

Data available from the county’s website indicated the nonadjusted case rate has been in the range of 30-34 per 100,000 people for the last week, and just less than 20 per 100,000 for the past two days — however, the county did not explain the metric or how the 25-case figure was determined.

Santa Clarita Valley school officials have been making plans to reopen local schools as soon as the county’s Public Health Department declared it safe to do so. 

Previously, school officials expressed doubt as recently as last week regarding whether seventh- to 12th-grade students would be able to return to campus this year. Most were still processing the announcement when reached for comment Monday evening.

The move comes after county Supervisor Kathryn Barger sent a letter Friday urging Gov. Gavin Newsom to immediately allow for the reopening of TK to 12th-grade schools for in-person instruction, noting a number of challenges and concerns associated with online-only learning options. 

“It has been 11 months since the state closed L.A. County schools, and during this time, we have witnessed a significant academic, social and emotional decline in our children and youth,” Barger said about her letter. “I am urging Gov. Newsom to allow for the immediate reopening of schools to provide in-person learning, which is critical for the development of our school-age children.”

Related To This Story

Latest NEWS