Private schools call on Los Angeles County officials to accept waivers for reopening campuses

A coalition of private schools in Los Angeles County is calling for public health officials and the County Board of Supervisors to accept their waiver applications to allow elementary schools to reopen.

The group calls itself the “Students First Coalition,” and includes the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Village Christian School and several other religious organizations.

The coalition wrote a letter to the Board of Supervisors on Monday, saying in part, "Today we are urging you to put Students First by creating a pathway to safely expand the reopening schools."

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In the letter, the coalition lists steps they would like the county to take, including reopening transitional kindergarten through 3rd-grade classrooms immediately through waivers and a phased-plan for reopening upper grades on two-week intervals, when permitted under state guidelines.

The Board is expected to discuss the possibly allowing school districts to apply for waivers to offer some in-person instruction at their Tuesday meeting, Board Chair Kathryn Barger said.

“Hopefully we can come to some conclusion as it relates to putting something together that allows school districts to ... submit a waiver,” Barger said Monday during a COVID-19 press briefing.

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Under current guidelines, L.A. County campuses are not permitted to reopen until at least November, with the exception for some groups of special needs students, at no more than 10% of capacity at one time, L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer has said.

However, state guidance for reopening schools allows elementary schools to reopen under a waiver application process in which schools must prove to county officials that they have strict COVID-19 safety measures in place. Individual counties, however, still have to approve such operations — which L.A. County has not.