Opinions divided as LAUSD returns to class amid COVID surge

Guillermo Duvon and Ulises Patatuchi are students at Olive Vista Middle School in Sylmar. Guillermo thought his first day back to school was good. Ulises found it a little anxiety-provoking. Both boys have been vaccinated against COVID-19 and are practicing school protocols

"I just make sure I sit far enough away from everyone if I can and do my work," Ulises said. 

Some schools had lines on this, the first day back from winter break. Lines were blamed on a slow "Daily Pass" check-in system. To Ulises, that was frustrating. It took him an extra hour, he says, just to take the first class. The Daily Pass is a scanning code, embedded with vaccination, testing and health information, which had issues for some Tuesday morning. District officials blamed the slowness on the pressure of lots of check-ins.

As different as Ulises and Guillermo are, so too are their parents. Guillermo’s stay-at-home dad, Julio Duvon, was glad school was back in session in person.  

"With them doing the testing before going to school I think that was a great idea, because they were able to eliminate most of the kids that were positive beforehand," he said. "So, I believe now the schools are pretty safe."

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Ulises’ mom, Mayra Rodriguez, isn’t so sure. She says she was, "extremely nervous. I honestly didn’t want to bring my son to school."

Recognizing there are parents like Rodriguez, school officials said they did everything they could to ease the concern.  

"I want to assure you that we have taken extensive measures to ensure that our schools continue to be the safest possible environments for learning," Board President Kelly Gonaz announced.

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Even so, there are some issues, and not just that Daily Pass. LAUSD says it's having a labor shortage like every other business because of COVID. The flu is causing problems too. Bus drivers are getting sick, so that could mean longer wait times. The district has 2,800 substitute teachers ready for sick calls and another 1,200 certified or classified outside employees who can teach a class or serve lunch if needed. That gives them a backup army of about 4,000. 

So how do the boys feel about school after day one? "I feel good," Guillermo said. Meanwhile, Ulises said he’s as nervous about going back to school tomorrow as he was today.

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