Los Angeles County Coronavirus Update: Health Officials Will Now Allow Some Schools To Reopen

After a motion was approved by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health plans to open the school waiver program for in-person instruction for grades TK-2.

Previously, schools in the nation’s second-largest district had only been allowed to reopen for students with special learning needs. The state has allowed counties to reopen schools for months via waivers, but L.A.-area health officials decided not to allow them.

The program will begin accepting applications in early October. Thirty schools per week will be considered. The county will prioritize the issuance of waivers to schools with higher percentages of students qualified for free/reduced meals.

Superintendents must submit school district waiver requests to re-open for approval by the local Health Officer. The decision to grant a waiver will be based on ensuring that schools are able to open in full adherence with the L.A. County school re-opening protocols.

Those include the following:

-A School COVID-19 Compliance Task Force that is responsible for establishing and enforcing all COVID-19 safety protocols

-A plan for all potentially-infected students and employees to have access to testing

-Those identified with coronavirus must follow the county’s plan for isolation

If more than two students or employees are infected, the protocols may escalate: If outbreak criteria are not met, the school continues with routine exposure management. But if outbreak criteria are met, the DPH Outbreak Management Branch will assign a public health investigator ito coordinate with the school on outbreak management for the duration of the investigation.

The state protocols have included teaching students in small cohorts — or groups — instead of classes as large as 30 or 40. This guideline will likely remain in effect.

The process requires consultation with the California Department of Public Health prior to accepting or rejecting waiver applications. The application process will be available online at publichealth.lacounty.gov and will be launched in early October.

On Tuesday, the county confirmed 39 new deaths and 905 new cases of confirmed COVID-19. To date, L.A. has identified 269,284 positive cases of COVID-19 and seen a total of 6,551 deaths.

Los Angeles remains in the state’s most restrictive tier for reopening based on its coronavirus numbers.

California announced on Tuesday that counties in all coronavirus risk tiers can reopen playgrounds.

The idea, said the state’s top health official, is to provide “more outlets for young people where the risk is low.”

“There have not been…any significant outbreaks linked to playgrounds,” he noted.

The new guidance does not include indoor playgrounds or family entertainment centers, which must remain closed. It does require that everyone 2 and older wear a face covering at outdoor playgrounds and that children remain under adult supervision to ensure masks are kept on.

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