Rancho Palos Verdes mayor sends letter to Newsom, LA County requesting that schools reopen

City officials in Rancho Palos Verdes sent a letter to California Governor Gavin Newsom and Los Angeles County last week, requesting that schools be permitted to reopen for in-person classes beginning in January.

"We are extremely concerned about the effects of prolonged distance learning on our children and urge you to expand safe, in-person learning opportunities for our TK-12 students no later than the start of the Spring Semester, January 2021," the letter signed by Mayor Eric Alegria and four other city officials reads. 

In the letter, RPV officials said they "acknowledge and respect the common goal not to overwhelm the healthcare system," however, they "stand firmly by the opinion that distance learning orders do not support a long-term approach to the well-being of our collective community."

In the letter, Mayor Alegria suggests that the state expand its current waiver process to all TK-12 grades and that waivers should be granted based on community case and positivity rates.

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It goes on to request a "regional approach to reopening schools" based on case rates in order to "minimize likelihood of exposure to COVID-19."

Citing data from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health's website, RPV city officials said that the county recognizes the need for a regional approach to targeting health resources.

"Due to the large size of LA County (4,300 square miles), it has been divided into eight geographic areas (Service Planning Areas ((SPA)). These distinct regions allow the Department of Public Health to develop and provide more relevant public health and clinical services targeted to the specific health needs of the residents in these different areas,” Public Health's website states.

Should the regional approach be implemented, RPV would fall under Los Angeles County's "South Bay region." Which, city officials say, "has consistently had lower case rates than the entire county."

"It seems unfair to our residents and students, who are reasonably following all mitigation measures, to be 'lumped in' with the county as a whole," the letter says.

The letter notes that New York City, with regional discretion, has reopened elementary schools with heightened health and safety measures. It adds that there is little direct scientific evidence linking measured school reopening to increased rates of infection and argues that children are facing a mental health crisis due to the isolating effects of distance learning. 

FOX 11 has reached out to the governor's office for a comment and is waiting to hear back.