Youngest students return to some LAUSD campuses

For the first time in more than a year, some Los Angeles Unified schools reopened for in-person classes Tuesday.

Video Transcript

- It's been more than a year since most LAUSD students stepped foot on campus. But today, some of the youngest children are back in the classroom. Eyewitness News reporter Rachel Brown has more on their return.

RACHEL BROWN: Today is the day LAUSD is beginning its phased reopening, welcoming back thousands of students for the first time. For the first time in over a year, these first and second graders at Heliotrope Elementary are back in their classrooms.

Today, LAUSD welcomed the return of elementary students at 72 schools across the district. The overall return rate for elementary students is currently at 40%. Many families have opted to continue remote learning.

AUSTIN BUETNER: It's our solemn and serious commitment to make sure we do this in the safest way possible.

RACHEL BROWN: Students are required to test for COVID before returning to campus. Desks are spread apart. Masks and daily health screenings are required.

In the more than 365 days out of school, the district provided 122 million meals, supplies, clothing, even baby wipes and diapers.

There's less than two months left of instruction, but school leaders say returning to class safely was critical and communities must act responsibly to keep the district open.

MONICA GARCIA: COVID hit people differently. And family struggle has not been the same across the board. So our system is trying to be responsive to multiple realities. Some very, very harsh, some very, very light. But everyone has been through a lot this year.

RACHEL BROWN: Next week, starting on the 19th, the district's remaining elementary schools will reopen. Middle schools and high schools will welcome students back during the week of April 26.

Superintendent Austin Buetner says the news to halt Johnson & Johnson's vaccine will not impact the 25 LAUSD vaccine sites because the district has only been administering Pfizer and Moderna.

AUSTIN BUETNER: It's a good day for us. It's a happy day. We're here to celebrate students back in schools. But this is the first step in what will be a long path to recovery.