Los Angeles County meets mark to open elementary schools

California

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Falling coronavirus rates are expected to allow elementary schools in Los Angeles County to reopen as early as this week, but that is not expected to immediately happen in the huge Los Angeles Unified School District.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said in a statement Monday night that it expects to announce Tuesday that the county has reached the threshold set by the state for reopening — an adjusted case rate of 25 per 100,000.

“This encouraging news means that dozens of elementary schools will be permitted to reopen for in-class instruction for students TK-6 as early as this week,” the statement said. “All schools wishing to reopen must submit plans to the County Department of Public Health and the California Department of Public Health certifying that they have implemented a full range of safety measures to permit a safe reopening.”

Schools were informed of the development in an emailed letter, the department said.

Los Angeles Unified, however, remains in negotiations with teachers on reopening, the Los Angeles Times reported.

LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner has said the nation’s second-largest school district is physically prepared for reopening, with the proper health practices and protocols already in place.

Beutner said last week that the district has done everything that federal Centers for Disease Control & Prevention guidelines require for a safe school environment and has gone beyond that by implementing a comprehensive school-based COVID-19 testing program.

“Los Angeles Unified has done more than any school district in the nation to prepare schools to welcome students back to in-person classes,” Beutner said on Feb. 8.

County health officials reported Monday that the daily test positivity rate was 5.2%, down 64% from Jan. 15, when the rate was 14.3%. Since then, COVID-19 hospitalizations have also fallen 60%.

California’s seven-day positivity rate was down to 3.7% and the daily number of new coronavirus cases was below 6,500, far below the peak on Dec. 15 of more than 53,000, the state health agency reported Monday.

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