By Nick Melvoin, LAUSD Board Vice President
We are settling into a new year in the Los Angeles Unified School District, and as your LAUSD School Board Member, I was thrilled to welcome so many students back to campus for full-time, in-person instruction for the first time in over a year. The excitement, resilience, and adaptability of our school communities was palpable over these first few weeks, and we will all continue to navigate a different kind of return to school than usual for our students and families.
Even with increased case rates due to the Delta variant, we know that the best place for the safety and well-being for the vast majority of our kids to be is back in the classroom. That’s why we implemented strong, multilayered protocols to keep kids in the safest possible learning environment. These layers include an employee vaccine mandate, school-based vaccination clinics available to all eligible community members, mask-wearing, weekly testing on school campuses, daily health screenings, upgraded ventilation in every school building, more frequent disinfecting routines, and an online learning option for families who need it.
We will continue working with school communities to streamline these processes and make sure that students and families are at the center of our decisions. Our updated quarantine protocols for students and staff who test positive for COVID-19 or have come in close contact with a positive case follow the county’s public health guidance. These take into consideration vaccination status and any present symptoms. In the event that a child does have to quarantine, we have worked with state legislators and labor partners to provide synchronous instruction via Zoom and keep students as connected to their classroom and supported by their teachers as possible.
I pushed for these policy updates to help maximize continuity of learning for students while maintaining the highest health standards set by medical experts.
We will continue to monitor risk levels and revise any protocols as health conditions evolve.
While we continue to face the challenging circumstances of the present, we are also focused on the critical efforts to create a brighter future for our students. This includes a strategic plan to invest the $7 billion facilities bond that voters passed last year in expanding early education opportunities, creating more collaborative and innovative learning spaces, replacing aging facilities with modern, sustainable infrastructure, increasing outdoor learning experiences, and closing the digital divide.
This year has also brought historic new investments to support our students’ recovery from this crisis, and we are using those dollars to equitably meet the needs of our school communities, with more access to mental health services and socio-emotional learning, academic initiatives to promote things like early literacy and college readiness, individualized tutoring and mentoring resources, art and music programs, and more. And we have begun our superintendent search with initial community engagement efforts as we look for the right person to lead our schools on the path to success.
Our kids have been through a lot, but above all, they have shown us the magnitude of their resilience. As we navigate the unique set of challenges of another unpredictable school year, I will continue pushing for students and families to be at the center of our decisions to meet their needs and get through the pandemic, together.