Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Los Angeles County to Allow Schools to Reopen But Don't Celebrate too Soon: It Won't Last and Santa Monica Will Not Be Included

Only elementary schools can reopen, and the case rate will not allow SMMUSD to reopen at all

FEBRUARY 16 Los Angeles County's Department of Public Health announced yesterday that they expect to reach a level of Covid-19 cases that will allow elementary schools to reopen today. The state of California set an adjusted case rate of 25 per 100,000 residents as the threshold, and the county believes they will meet that threshold today.

"This encouraging news means that dozens of elementary schools will be permitted to reopen for in-class instruction for students grades TK-6 as early as this week," reads the LAC DPH statement.

But it may be premature to celebrate.

1. Health officials are only allowing half the grades to return. That means older children will continue to be at home in front of their computer screens. More likely, they have discovered a way to seem as though they are in front of their computer screens while they are pursuing far more interesting activities elsewhere.

2. "All schools wishing to reopen must submit plans to the County Department of Public Health and the California Department of Public Health certifying that they have implemented a full range of safety measures to permit a safe reopening," warns the Health Department. It is doubtful many schools have prepared such procedures even though they most certainly should have. Look for at least a month of school official doublespeak while they scramble to come up with these bureaucratic plans. By that time, the case rate may have gone up past the threshold again.

3. Indeed, considering there were as many as 15,000 cases per day a mere four weeks ago, or about 150 cases per 100,000 residents, it would be foolish to assume the current case rate will hold for any significant length of time. Nor should one look to the vaccine for help in this regard. Vaccinations are proceeding at a snail's pace, with only 100,000 new doses given per week. Vaccinating the next phase, which includes schoolteachers, will take an estimated 6 months at the current rate.

4. The county's largesse in allowing area elementary schools to reopen will not affect Santa Monica. The SMMUSD school board decided in December, under great pressure from parents, to allow a hybrid learning model - not full reopening - only when the county reaches a Tier 2 level. Tier 2 requires a maximum of 7 cases per 100,000 residents per day. This would require three times less cases per day than the county's threshold. The county has not been in a Tier 2 level since the beginning of the lockdown in March of 2020.

As usual our elected and bureaucratic officials are holding out some bait, hoping a tired and dejected public will take it and get caught, once again, in the false promises of a return to the natural order of life, where people can go to work and learn at school and behave like normal human beings.


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