After more than a year of remote learning, second and third grade students returned to Los Angeles Unified campuses Wednesday.
- We're going to see more LAUSD students heading back to school, an exciting morning for them. The second and third graders are heading back after a year of remote learning. Let's go back to Eyewitness News Reporter Rachel Brown. She's live in Westwood with all the details on this. Good morning.
RACHEL BROWN: Good morning to you, Brandy and Leslie. Yes, it is a really exciting day. We are here at Warner Avenue School in Westwood. And this school and so many others, they are just so excited to welcome students back. We see the staff here preparing for the big welcome. They're setting up the balloons. We've got the balloons up and out. You can also see the beautiful signs posted in the front yard and my favorite sign here up front that says we missed you.
So they're really excited for this day, parents, teachers, students alike. Yesterday kindergarten and first graders were welcomed back at 72 schools. And today second and third graders will return. Fourth and fifth grade students return tomorrow. And next week the district's remaining elementary schools will open.
According to the superintendent, the strategy is bringing children back slowly and safely. Middle schools and high schools will be the last to open the last week of April. Students must take a COVID test before returning to campus. And students who choose to learn in person must then undergo free weekly COVID testing.
Several other protocols are in place, such as mask wearing and physical distancing. LAUSD parents thanked Superintendent Austin Beutner yesterday for his efforts in getting them back.
JESSICA VISITISOMSUK: I do appreciate that you've taken the time to actually care for the children and the families in the community, to not rush the process of bringing our kids back so that families and children can feel safe.
DARLIN SETOUDEH: And I really think you guys have done your best to come up with all the scenarios that could happen and try to protect everybody as much as you can, because nobody wants it to go bad.
RACHEL BROWN: Yesterday Beutner said the overall return rate for elementary school students is currently at 40%. Many families have opted to continue with remote learning for now. Beutner also said the news to halt Johnson & Johnson's vaccine will not impact the 25 LAUSD student vaccine sites-- excuse me, family vaccine sites.
That is because the district has only been administering Pfizer and Moderna. But back out live here outside the Warner Avenue School, it is a really exciting day. And the goal is that the district stays open. And the community has to be a part of that.