As part of its 2020-2021 school year reopening plan, schools in Los Angeles County will require students to wear face masks “at all times.”
According to CBS Los Angeles, the plan also mandates that no more than 16 students be in a classroom at a time, which likely will be accommodated by “staggered schedules.”
In addition, lunches will be served in classrooms instead of cafeterias, student movement in hallways will go in only one direction, and “each student would be assigned one ball to play with alone.” (Hopefully that’s during recess and not in class.)
Office of Education Superintendent Debra Duardo said “Unfortunately some of the things that children could enjoy in the past, they’re not going to able to do that.”
While the vast majority of schools have transitioned to online learning, teachers and other school officials have acknowledged challenges to learning at home and say it’s critical for leaders to prepare for a return to campus, even as schools face potentially deep cuts under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed budget.
The plan was released just before the county announced 933 newly confirmed cases of coronavirus, raising the county’s total to 48,700, though Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said the county is in the recovery phase of the pandemic.
“Hospitalizations are down, our deaths are down,” she said. “The number of cases is up, but that’s a good thing as I’ve noted because it just means a lot more people are getting tested, but our positivity rate is also down.”
The plan actually stipulates “cloth” face coverings for staff and students; LA County Department of Health guidelines favor these masks as higher tech coverings should be reserved for health care workers. Use of masks such as the N95 respirator is “strongly discouraged” among the general public, the DOH says.
The plan’s health and safety guidelines also provide detailed instructions for hand washing, social distancing, and entrance and exit from schools.
Those involved in the creation of the guidelines no doubt feel good about themselves for their thoroughness; however, reality will, without a doubt, hit them square in the face come September. School children complain about the most minute inconveniences, so imagine what their reaction will be to having to keep a mask on for upwards of seven hours per day.
In addition, consider this rule: “Remind students to not share or touch anyone else’s food or beverages.” As any teacher who’s done cafeteria duty can attest, that is all students do during lunch time. Will teachers and administrators now be forced into hyper-vigilance about kids’ eating habits? What will be the penalties for violations? Detention? Suspension? (Aren’t we supposed to be doing away with those “punitive” punishments?) Will there be forced COVID-19 testing?
The City (and County) of Angels just may be on the verge of a homeschooling and private education boom.
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