County health and school officials Friday responded to questions from parents about schools reopening across the county during a live virtual townhall.
Los Angeles County Superintendent of Schools Debra Duardo told listeners 77% of county school districts will be reopened for in-person instruction by the end of April.
“We really plan to focus on healing and social and emotional well-being when everybody comes back to school,” Duardo said, emphasizing the continued work to support students facing challenges like poverty, homelessness and access to technology.
County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer assured parents that quality online learning will be available for families who decide to not send their students back to campus.
“Public Health does not require that students return to in-person learning. Each school district or individual schools in some cases will make a decision about offering in-person instruction and then each family will make a decision about having their family return to campus,” Ferrer said.
Dr. Robert Gilchick, a member of the adolescent health team at the county Public Health Department, said his team is working on guidance for performing arts activities, like choir, drama and marching band, at schools.
“That guidance is under development right now,” he said. “We align as closely as we can with state guidance, to the extent possible.”
County Mental Health Department Director Dr. Jonathan Sherin spoke to the importance of addressing mental health issues as schools reopen.
“While there’s post-traumatic injury, there’s also an opportunity for post-traumatic growth. I’d like to think about how we as a collective empower our communities and not become victims,” he said, advising families to safely reconnect with their school communities.
A recording of the townhall is available online on the Department of Public Health’s YouTube channel.