Thousands of Los Angeles Unified School District students are returning to class with new start times and relaxed COVID protocols.
“This is the best day of the year,” LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said just hours before the start of the new school year Monday.
The nation’s second largest school district will see roughly 560,000 students returning to the classroom, along with 24,000 teachers and 73,000 School District employees.
Secondary school students will immediately notice a change this year as they begin class with a later start time thanks to recent state legislation.
“Sleep’s really important for the adolescent brain,” LAUSD School Board President Kelly Gonez said. “If you are a middle or high schooler you get to sleep in a little bit extra.”
Returning students will also notice the relaxed COVID-19 protocols.
Students will no longer have to take weekly COVID tests or line up to show the results, and masks are no longer required indoors.
“We’re still recommending strongly that everyone wear their mask,” Carvalho said.
The School District has taken several steps to keep children safe, and hopefully prevent the virus from spreading as the school year begins.
“We’ve installed air filtration systems in schools. We have disinfected schools. We have intense sanitization efforts in schools. People know that we need to get kids back in school and it’s a balance between being cautious, exercising due care, following the protocols but also affording students the opportunity to be face-to-face with a caring teacher,” Carvalho said.
Since the recent tragedy in Uvalde, Texas, school safety is once again a concern as hundreds of thousands of children get together again on L.A.-area campuses.
The School District has narrowed the number of entry points in schools and installed more cameras. But, more importantly is community collaboration, Carvalho said.
“Someone always knows something. So if you know something, if you see something, communicate with our school system to avoid the tragedies that sadly we continue to see across the country,” Carvalho said.
Monday is also Carvalho’s first opening day as LAUSD superintendent.
“I am loving L.A. I am living LAUSD,” said Carvalho, who is planning to go to nine different schools, ride a bus and eat in a school cafeteria.
“I am thrilled to be here … It’s going to be a great school year,” he said.
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