Back to school amid the surge in COVID: 3 things you should know

Good morning and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Tuesday, August 17th. I’m justin ray

This year’s return to school marks the third academic year that the education of 6 million California children has been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools opening this month – including the Los Angeles Unified School District on Monday – are unfolding as the Delta variant spreads across the United States.

Excitement and fear filled the air as children streamed onto campus again. However, there were long lines at some large institutions as daily health checks slowed the process. Many students ended up missing their first lessons.

Matthew, 17, a student at John Marshall High School in Los Feliz, was looking forward to his first day of school. But he said waiting in line was slowly “killing my mood”.

There were also some issues with the district’s health check-up app, the Daily Pass. Parents should use it to certify that their children are healthy. The Daily Pass system gives students a scannable code to enter the school. They can also answer questions about their health from a screener at the campus entrance, an alternative that also caused delays.

When asked if long lines in front of campus were the new norm, Acting LA Unified Supt responded. Megan Reilly said, “Today is the first day of school. I think we’re getting better and better every day. “

The security protocols at the district’s schools are touted as the strictest in the country and rely on several measures – such as masking, improved ventilation and increased hand washing. District officials are determined to make a colossal effort: to examine every single student, teacher, and staff member – more than half a million people – once a week for the foreseeable future.

However, some have chosen not to go through the process at all. About 3% of students’ parents have indicated that they will choose to study online through an independent study program instead. To make that choice, long forms had to be filled out and trusted classmates and teachers left behind – at least for now.

Here are three things you should know about returning to schools in California:

What precautionary measures are recommended?

On July 19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published their updated recommendations for K-12 schools. It suggests universal masking in schools, targeted quarantine practices, and access to a robust coronavirus testing program. But most importantly, the state of California and the Los Angeles County Department of Health emphasize vaccination for all eligible persons and masking in classrooms and school buildings.

What is the current state of COVID in children?

The state is seeing about 18 new COVID-19 hospital admissions for children 17 and under every day for the past seven days. Recent hospital admissions numbers are still below the high of about 29 new COVID-19 hospital admissions per day recorded in January, according to the CDC. Childhood deaths from COVID-19 remain relatively low. Of a cumulative COVID-19 death toll of more than 64,000 Californians, 30 were child deaths nationwide. The rate of new hospital admissions for children and adolescents has not reached the level seen in the hardest-hit parts of the country. Public health officials said California has taken steps to ensure children can go back to school safely. They also believe that above-average vaccination rates in the state will help protect children.

“Parents should be reassured that the number of cases among children is still very low; serious illnesses are still relatively rare, ”said Barbara Ferrer, LA County’s director of public health. “And if we all do our part, we hope that schools will open with a lot of safety and without much increased risk.”

Who makes the rules?

School districts across the state have the power to create their own guidelines. The only condition is that the requirements of the state and local health authorities are met. This means your school district may have stricter rules than the state. All school districts are required by the state to post detailed safety plans on their websites for information about your school district and campus. Every school district in California had to submit its plan to the state.

We have a lot more information in our Return to School FAQ (I highly recommend this story, it answers many, many questions). We have published a comprehensive review of the $ 350 million LAUSD efforts to ensure a safe return to campus. We also have a reopening tracker.

Before I begin my links, a note: The Los Angeles Times is following events in Afghanistan. As you all know, this newsletter covers California-specific events, and while the rapid collapse of the country’s government is immensely important, it is outside of my jurisdiction. But I wanted to mention that we covered topics like the future, the fear of terrorism in the US, and the confusion, disappointment and anger of veterans.

And now this is what happened in California.

Note: Some of the websites we link to may limit the number of stories you can access without a subscription.


A man and woman were beheaded in a car accident on Freeway 5, California Highway Patrol officials said. Authorities said alcohol and excessive speed may have been factors in the Sunday accident that occurred just before 1am in the southbound lanes near the 405 motorway in Sylmar. The car “hadn’t kept the curve of the road before it got out of control” and crashed into a large combination. Los Angeles times

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They fought for clean air. Little did they know they were part of a gas industry campaign. Diesel truck pollution from the busiest port complex in the United States has polluted the air in nearby neighborhoods in Southern California for decades. When port officials asked for feedback on how to clean up this pollution, hundreds of people volunteered. Little did officials know that some of the locals who pushed for assistance for natural gas trucks were being paid by a company hired by the natural gas industry. It’s not the first time companies have tried to control the energy message. Los Angeles times

Trucks move across Terminal Island, which is shared by the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)


After years of denying this, Robert Durst admitted in court on Monday that he had written a critical piece of evidence at his trial in Los Angeles. Durst, 78, testified that he and Susan Berman had planned a Christmas “stay” in Los Angeles and that he was going to see her the week she was killed. When he got to her home in December 2000, he found her bleeding on the floor. He called 911 and when the operator answered he didn’t want to give his name. Durst said he opted instead to write what was called the “corpse note” – a piece of paper containing only Berman’s Benedict Canyon Drive address and the word “corpses” – and mailed it to the Beverly Hills Police Department. Los Angeles times

The animal-loving Turlock teenager dies from injuries sustained when a truck hit her and her horse. Summer Vigil-Gardner, 19, was riding the horse named Riggs on her regular route on Saturday when the driver of a Chevrolet Silverado met her. The horse died on the scene. The teenager was taken to the Doctors Medical Center after suffering a serious brain injury. She had no brain activity after the incident and has since been relieved of life support. Modesto bee


PG&E Plans Power Cut As Dixie Fires Rage In Northern California. Pacific Gas & Electric Co. announced Tuesday evening that it would turn off electricity for about 39,000 residents in 16 counties in Northern California to reduce the risk of forest fires from live power lines. In the northern part of the state, strong southwest winds are expected from the end of Monday, colliding with scorching temperatures and parched vegetation – conditions that are known to fuel extreme fire behavior. Los Angeles times


The hearing for Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer on whether the woman who accused him of sexual assault should be given a restraining order for the next five years began Monday morning after a request from Bauer’s attorneys for a third sequel was denied by a judge . According to preliminary statements, the prosecutor was the first witness called. The San Diego resident testified that she created an Instagram story on April 18 while watching Bauer pitch and tagging his account. She didn’t expect him to respond because he has 400,000 followers. Bauer replied, and they exchanged Instagram direct messages for three days. Los Angeles times

A year after the fire, Santa Cruz’s scorched forests are sprouting with new life, but it takes time to grow. The fire at the CZU Lightning Complex burned approximately 86,500 acres from the Santa Cruz Mountains in the San Mateo district. In Fall Creek, sequoias are now charcoal scars. But the trees are still there. “It’s very, very difficult to kill a sequoia tree,” said Joanne Kerbavaz, senior environmental scientist at California State Parks. But other trees are not as resistant to forest fires. Santa Cruz Sentinel

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Los Angeles: go for a swim! 85th San Diego: 78th San Francisco: Days that end in “day” are good for ice cream! 69. San Jose: 78. Fresno: 102. Sacramento: 90.


Today’s California memory is from Shane VerPlanck:

I was born in 1946 to an Oklahoma cowboy and an English war bride. We lived in Compton in an area called Richland Farms, and my father built two houses by himself. We had a wonderful neighbor named Mr. Ellerman who had actually come to Compton with his little Scottish wife in a covered wagon. The neighborhood hero had taught us how to fly kites and walk on tin can stilts. I later learned that Mr. Ellerman was giving his land to the City of Compton to turn it into a park for the children, where it still stands today.

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please limit your story to 100 words.)

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