With Los Angeles County school districts getting the green light from state officials to reopen elementary schools, everyone — parents, teachers, administrators and children — is understandably wondering about safety.
Although the Los Angeles Unified School District’s reopening plan has been approved, the district hasn't set an opening date yet, and it will continue to offer 100% online schooling for those who want it through the end of the school year. While the county's 1.5 million K–6 students and their parents wait to see what happens, UCLA Health professionals have insights on how schools can best manage the move to in-class instruction.
Shangxin Yang, an assistant clinical professor of pathology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and father of a fourth-grader, said he's optimistic about the decline of COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles County and what the long-awaited return to school means for local students.
"When you look at the community, all the rates are going down in a very dramatic fashion," he said. "In the meantime, there's a lot more solid evidence suggesting that reopening schools with multiple mitigation strategies actually works with very minimal, rare outbreaks in schools."
A paper published in January in the Journal of the American Medical Association reports "little evidence that schools have contributed meaningfully to increased community transmission" of COVID-19.
Yang and Dr. Anuradha Seshadri, a pediatrician and internist at UCLA Health, shared ideas that can help keep everyone safer.
In the classroom
Getting to school
"You can't just count on one thing, because nothing is perfect," Yang said. "You really need multiple layers of strategies, including how you limit the group. But on top of that, you still need to have masks. You still need to practice social distancing. You have to do multiple things to minimize the risk."
This story was adapted from a longer version on UCLA Health’s website.
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