Schools, Officials Celebrate Reopening Milestones

Photo by Charles Hirsch / Burbank Leader
Los Angeles County is expected to move out of the most restrictive tier of the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy as early as Monday. The move would allow movie theaters to reopen at limited capacity and schools to expand in-person instruction to students in grades 7-12.

Life in Los Angeles County during the pandemic is quickly changing after COVID-19 cases plunged since the winter surge amid ramped up efforts to vaccinate residents.
State and county officials recently eased restrictions for schools to offer in-person instruction for their youngest learners, and more reopenings are expected across Los Angeles County as early as next week. Moving into the red tier would also permit schools to reopen for in-person instruction for students in grades 7-12.
The L.A. Department of Public Health anticipates moving out of the purple tier — indicating widespread infection — and into the less restrictive red tier as soon as Monday, March 15, in accordance with the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy. The new health order that would allow more businesses to reopen will be implemented since the state reached its goal of administering two million doses of the vaccine to its most underprivileged communities on Friday.
“This milestone is the result of businesses and individuals working together and doing their part to prevent COVID-19 from spreading,” L.A. Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “It will be up to everyone, businesses and residents to continue driving down transmission and follow safety directives closely to keep everyone safe as possible by preventing increases in cases.”
Restaurants can open indoors at 25% max capacity as long as tables are separated at least 8 feet apart from other patrons. Each table is limited to six people from as many as three households and the heating, cooling and ventilation system must be in good working order. Restaurant employees interacting with customers are recommended to wear N95 masks, KN95 masks or double masks and a face shield.
Movie theaters can reopen at 25% capacity with reserved seating only where each group is seated at least 6 feet of distance in all directions between any other groups. Museums, zoos and aquariums can also open indoors at 25% capacity.
Gyms and fitness centers can open indoors at 10% capacity with masking requirements for all indoor activities.
Shopping malls, retail stores and personal care services can increase capacity to 50%. Common areas at the mall are to remain closed and food courts can open at 25% capacity adhering to same guidelines as restaurants.

BUSD PREPARES FOR RETURN
On Tuesday, the Burbank Unified School District released a video announcing its intention to reopen for students in transitional kindergarten through 5th grade by March 31.
Though negotiations with teachers and classified staff are ongoing, the district is proposing a hybrid model with limited in-person instruction. Superintendent Matt Hill said more details of the plan will be announced in the near future.
“We want to be able to open safely for employees and our families,” said Hill, who added that all employees who wanted to be vaccinated will have received the first dose by the end of the week. “We’re going to be proposing a model where everyone gets to keep their teacher and everyone gets to keep their class. That’s been a commitment that we wanted to make from day one.”
BUSD is also hoping to expand the reopening to 8th-graders and high school seniors.
“We know the social emotional aspect of this pandemic has taken a toll on our students,” Hill said. “We also know that some students are struggling with distance learning, so after that morning of distance learning, we want to look at some models where we can bring students back to campus in that limited hybrid model so they get that in-person touch with their teachers so that they can work through the challenges that they’re having.
“It’s a fast journey that we’ve been going through, but it’s a positive space that we’re in now. We can finally look and see how we can bring families that want to come back.”
BUSD, like many other districts in the state, are ramping up reopening plans after Gov. Gavin Newsom and California lawmakers struck a deal that offers incentives. State officials announced early last week to offer $2 billion to school districts that open for transitional students in kindergarten through second grade by April 1.