By Kara Roa
As COVID-19 cases continue to drop in Los Angeles County according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Bonita Unified School District pushes forward with a confirmed return date of Apr. 5 and a commitment to a safe environment for all staff.
Superintendent Carl Coles announced a target return date of Apr. 5 for elementary schools “contingent upon the case rate decreasing and staying under 25, and vaccinations being made readily available to our staff” in a statement on Feb. 5.
A month later and as both requirements were met, Coles confirmed in a Mar. 5 statement to all students, staff and families that Apr. 5 has been finalized for elementary schools and Apr. 12 is the new target date for middle and high schools.
“At this time, Los Angeles County remains in the purple tier. For secondary students to return to campus, the County must be in the red tier with an adjusted case rate under 7 per 100,000 for fourteen consecutive days. On March 2nd, that rate was 7.2,” Coles wrote.
“With that in mind, and assuming that numbers will continue to fall, we are setting a target date of Monday, April 12, 2021, to reopen our middle and high schools, grades 6-12, for in-person instruction in a hybrid model.”
COVID-19 vaccine availability has continued to be an obstacle for the residents and employers on the county, state and national levels due to short supply and inconsistencies in availability, acknowledges the LA County Department of Public Health.
“As Public Health prepares to open up eligibility for the vaccine to three additional sectors starting on March 1 – education and childcare, food and agriculture, and first responders and law enforcement – the County is working with partners to address challenges in vaccinating the more than 1.8 million workers that will be eligible for the vaccine.”
While surrounding counties including San Bernardino and Riverside were able to offer educators vaccines through proof of residency or employment starting as early as Jan. 13, Los Angeles County began offering vaccines to educators on Mar. 1.
In a Jan. 22 email statement to staff, Assistant Superintendent Kevin Lee assured BUSD employees that while not mandated to receive a vaccine, employees would be allowed to take time off during the work day to be vaccinated without deduction from personal leave times.
Lee also informed staff of the district’s commitment to providing COVID-19 vaccines opportunities by other means.
“As a District, we are reaching out to community partners to attempt to put a systematic and efficient process in place for our employees to get the vaccine.”
BUSD was able to solidify efforts by hosting its first vaccination clinic at Lone Hill Middle School from Mar. 3-5. The district confirmed in a press release that follow-up clinics will be available for staff to get their second doses.
“The health and safety of our school community is our top priority, and with the success of our vaccine clinic, we are even better prepared to reopen our campuses,” said Chuck Coyne, BUSD Board of Education President, in the same press release.
More information on BUSD’s phased reopening, COVID-19 safety protocols and staff vaccinations are available on the Bonita Unified School District website.