LAUSD to receive extra vaccine doses, keeping alive hope of reopening elementary schools in April

Gov. Gavin Newsom has agreed to set aside 25,000 additional COVID-19 vaccine doses over the next two weeks for Los Angeles Unified school employees, Superintendent Austin Beutner said Monday, Mar. 1, in an announcement that keeps alive the superintendent’s hope of reopening elementary schools in April.

“This is a game-changer,” Beutner said during his weekly community update.

“This plan will allow us to complete during the next two weeks vaccinations for school staff who are already working at school sites, staff who are working with our youngest learners and those working with students with learning differences and disabilities.”

While the ability to vaccinate those who work in preschools and elementary schools soon means classrooms could potentially reopen next month, the district still must negotiate a return to school with the teachers union, which this week is having its members vote on whether employees should refuse to return for in-person work if it becomes mandatory.

United Teachers Los Angeles has insisted on three conditions before schools reopen: that safety measures be in place such as the availability of personal protective equipment and proper sanitation and disinfection of facilities; that all school employees have been fully vaccinated or offered the opportunity for full vaccination; and that the county’s COVID-19 case rate drop below 7 cases per 100,000 residents.

District officials say they’re prepared to reopen schools with the proper safety measures in place, and, as of Monday, all school employees are now eligible to receive the vaccines.

As of last Tuesday, the county’s adjusted COVID-19 case rate was at 12.3 cases per 100,000 people. The rate, which has been dropping dramatically in recent weeks, could potentially drop further when the state releases updated figures on Tuesday.

As for which LAUSD employees will receive priority for the vaccines, the district, which has more than 86,000 employees working in traditional and charter schools, will focus its initial attention on vaccinating those who already are working at school sites and those assigned to preschool and elementary schools, Beutner said.

The superintendent is also expected to deliver remarks later Monday morning at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood to mark the opening of the stadium as the nation’s largest vaccination site dedicated to school employees. The operation is a partnership between LAUSD, the Los Angeles Rams, Hollywood Park, city of Inglewood and Anthem Blue Cross and Cedars-Sinai.

Transportation to Hollywood Park will be available from each of LAUSD’s 44 Community of School offices.

Besides SoFi Stadium, the district plans to operate additional vaccination sites at three schools for the time being, with more schools potentially opening as vaccination centers if more vaccine doses become available.

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