Editorial: LAUSD should not reopen schools prematurely

The country’s second largest district risks the health of students, teachers, staff if campuses reopen too soon.


Evan Gleason

As coronavirus cases in Los Angeles County rise, COVID-19 testing becomes more important for those going back to work and school.

As the COVID-19 cases surge in Southern California turns the state purple and ICU availability drops to 10%, we must prioritize student and staff health by not prematurely reopening schools. 

The latest round of lockdowns in the region caused the implementation of a new stay-at-home order in Los Angeles County. By irresponsibly opening up Los Angeles Unified School District schools as early as January 2021, the district risks devastating widespread infections on their campuses. 

California reached 30,000 daily new cases on Dec. 13. The expected surge in cases due to Thanksgiving celebrations will result in a “surge on top of a surge in 2-3 weeks,” according to Los Angeles County Health Director Barbara Ferrer. With these facts in mind, rushing into reopening puts into question the amount of concern the district has for the health of its students and staff.

Additionally, the imminent surge that will come from the December holiday and New Year’s celebrations is a cause of serious concern regarding the constant increase of cases in California. Considering all these factors, the decision of re-opening schools seems dangerous for students and staff.

Due to the current results of reopened schools in LA County, there’s a high percentage of failure in taking this chance. One hundred fifty coronavirus cases have been reported in the schools that have reopened. This serves as an example of the possible outbreaks if all 600,000 students chose to return. 

COVID-19 rates are also the highest among minority communities. According to the Los Angeles Times, Black and Latino Californians aged 18 to 64 are dying more frequently than their white and Asian counterparts. Given that 73.4% of LAUSD students are Latino and 10% are Black, the risk of reopening schools will disproportionately risk the lives of these students. 

Additionally, the Long Beach Unified School District has already announced on Dec. 14 that their schools will remain closed until at least March 1. The San Bernardino City Unified School District has also decided that they won’t be returning in-person at all next semester. 

LAUSD has shown attempts to open safely through following safety procedures and allowing any students of the district to get tested at local school testing sites. Though these measures are appreciated, moving into this swiftly may be a boiling point. 

Although the rounds of the COVID-19 vaccination have begun this week, the vaccine’s effectiveness and necessary dosage are still unknown. There also comes the debate over whether students and teachers choose to take this vaccination. This uncertainty will jeopardize student health and is yet another reason why reopening schools is irresponsible.

As students, we understand the desire to “go back to normal” as much as anyone but our health and those of our loved ones is the priority. Taking a leap like this will only create a larger mess when it comes to cases and our education system.