CALABASAS, Calif. - Monday was the first day back at school for about 2,000 students in the Los Virgenes Unified School District. FOX 11 was there as the doors opened at Lupin Hill Elementary Schools in Calabasas and most kids and their parents were thrilled.
"We’re excited - it’s been a long time," said Doug Cusick, who was dropping off his son, Owen. "The school district has done a great job with keeping up with safety procedures - they’re very organized, so we’re very confident that they did this the right way."
The nine LVUSD elementary schools were the first to reopen in Los Angeles County since the pandemic hit, thanks to a waiver program approved by the LA County Board of Supervisors last month.
"We are over the moon excited - this is just what it’s all about - having the kids back on campus together with their friends,” said LVUSD Superintendent Dan Stepenosky. “It’s just about being smart - taking care of each other."
To prepare for the reopening, the district spent an estimated $1.6 million dollars on equipment like plexiglass, face shields, and ultraviolet air filters. Parents are required to complete a health screening before arriving on campus, and students’ temperatures are taken daily.
"We sanitize and wash hands before and after they leave classrooms. We do cleanings of all play equipment, tables, desks, chairs. Everything that’s been touched by a student gets cleaned before and after each cohort," said Lupin Hill Elementary School Principal Scott Foli. "I can’t tell you how happy the teachers are, the parents are, the kids are. Over the last few days it’s just been over-the-top excitement."
For now, the schools are only open to transitional kindergarten through second grade students. Stepenosky explained that the younger ones need in-person instruction much more than older students.
"These are our least independent learners - you know, kindergarten, first, and second grade. These guys need their teachers - they need to be with each other in the same space. Starting off kindergarten - this is their first time in school," he said.
To keep class sizes small, the students are split into cohorts and will stay for half-day sessions. The morning session starts at 8 a.m., and the afternoon session starts at 12:15 p.m.
Parents agreed that any help is better than nothing.
"We’ll take the 2 hours and 40 minutes," exclaimed parent Denise Lee as she dropped off her second-grader.