Updates to state rules have indefinitely delayed the planned reopening of South Pasadena Unified School District’s elementary schools that was initially scheduled to begin in February.
Per the California Safe Schools for All Plan, which is developed and managed by the California Department of Public Health, a county in the Purple Tier coronavirus status may open elementary schools for limited in-person instruction after the county’s adjusted case rate has registered at 25 or fewer per 100,000 residents for ﬁve straight days.
As of the Review’s press deadline on Wednesday, Los Angeles County’s adjusted case rate was 48.2 cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents, according to CDPH data.
Late last year, the county had granted waivers for SPUSD’s three elementary schools — Arroyo Vista, Marengo and Monterey Hills — that would have allowed the district to eventually resume
in-person instruction for transitional kindergarten through 2nd-grade students. County health officials then visited the school sites to walk through and evaluate protocols for sanitation and distancing guidelines, giving the district the green light to move forward in January.
The district planned to bring transitional and regular kindergarten students along with special education students back to their elementary schools on Monday, Feb. 8, while 1st- and 2nd-graders would have returned on Tuesday, Feb. 16.
“We are committed to a safe return for all and we will continue to plan for this day,” Superintendent Geoff Yantz wrote in a statement. “Officials from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health recently gave us glowing reviews about the safety and mitigation measures at our schools. We will continue to adjust these measures, as necessary, to prepare for reopening.”
School administrators plan to provide morning and afternoon class assignments to parents when it becomes clearer when the reopening can proceed. Marengo Elementary’s Extended Day Program will continue until further notice, the district said.
It remains unlikely that South Pasadena middle and high schools will have students back in classrooms in the near future. Only counties in the Red Tier or better are currently permitted to have middle and high school students return for in-person instruction — meaning L.A. County would have to be no worse than seven new cases per 100,000 residents every day.
Although athletic conditioning had resumed at South Pasadena High School in the late fall, the district suspended it during the county’s overwhelming caseload surge during and after the winter holidays. The district currently plans to bring the conditioning back next month.
Intramural athletic conditioning is also slated to begin at South Pasadena Middle School in February.
Although expectations regularly change based on product availability, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health currently expects to enter Phase 1B-Tier 1 of COVID-19 vaccinations — a category that includes educators — in February. State officials also have repeatedly altered the vaccine priority list in recent weeks, further adding to the confusion of public policy throughout California.
Locally, SPUSD’s nurse, health clerks and other employees who provide direct medical care for students recently received their first shots of the COVID-19 vaccines, as they fall under the health-care worker umbrella.