(293834)

The United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) is concerned about comments by members of the LA Board of Supervisors calling for in-person elementary instruction while LA County remains in the deep purple tier, according to a union statement.

“Doing so would almost certainly lead to an increase in infections and school closures, creating even more instability and frustration,” the statement reads.

“Public schools are at the heart of these hard-hit communities, and educators feel a deep responsibility to advocate for our students and their parents. This latest push reflects the erosion of safety standards,” said UTLA President Cecily Myart-Cruz.

“Last year, the state said it was unsafe to reopen until infections fell below 7 cases per 100,000,” Myart-Cruz said. “Suddenly, as more infectious and fatal variants are spreading, the state claims it’s safe to reopen when infections are at 25 cases per 100,000.”

As of Tuesday, Los Angeles County’s adjusted case rate was 20 cases per 100,000 people and the seven-day average daily test positivity rate was 7.2 percent. The average daily cases, adjusted case rate, and positivity rate are steadily declining after peaking in January.

LA County’s adjusted case rate has remained under 25 new cases per 100,000 people for five consecutive days, meeting the State requirements for schools to open on-site learning for grades TK through 6. Students in grades TK through 6 are permitted for on-site learning if the school is in full compliance with state and county

directives. For grades 7 through 12, reopening will not be permitted until our case rate drops below 7 per 100,000 people.

The union stated that educators cannot support a broad physical reopening of schools until school staff required to work in person have access to vaccinations, LA County is out of the purple tier and reaches much lower community transmission rate, and all schools have strict multi-layered mitigation strategies in place — such as COVID testing, physical distancing, use of masks, hand hygiene, and isolation/quarantine procedures.

“Resuming in-person instruction when cases are so high and without proper health and safety protocols will result in a yo-yo effect of closures, upending the very educational stability that our students and communities deserve,” Myart-Cruz said.

Last Friday it was announced there is a 35 percent increase in a rare pediatric inflammatory syndrome linked to coronavirus, known as MIS-C, leading to more hospitalizations in school-aged children.

According to the statement, more than 65 percent of LAUSD parents surveyed said they do not want to return to in-person classes because of too-high infection rates, while LAUSD communities remain in the purple tier. If politicians want to listen to the true stakeholders — the parents of LAUSD students — then funding resources should be sent to support and improve distance learning for our neediest children and to control the pandemic.