COVID-19 cases are ticking up just as most Long Beach Unified students are scheduled to return to class on Wednesday, Aug. 30, leaving parents and students with a decision about what precautions to take.

There is no local mask mandate, so students are free to go without, according to LBUSD spokesperson Evelyn Somoza.

However, “safety precautions such as staying home when ill, regular hand washing and COVID-19 testing as needed will continue to apply this school year,” Somoza said in an email.

According to Health Department spokesperson Jennifer Rice Epstein, she and other health officials are encouraging everyone to “follow common-sense guidance to prevent transmission.”

“Masks are a tool in the toolbox,” she said.

More students may be masked up on Wednesday because of the recent rise in coronavirus cases.

The city reported 269 from Aug. 18-24, a 60% increase from the week prior, although due to home testing, that is almost certainly an undercount.

Ahead of the new school year, LBUSD parent Danny Flores said he has not received any information or communication from the district regarding COVID-19.

Flores, a Bixby Knolls resident with two kids in school, said the district is making the right call by letting everyone assess the risk themselves.

“I believe in immunizing my kids and, you know, keeping them as safe as possible,” Flores said. “As far as the mask is concerned, if my boys are comfortable wearing the mask, I’m happy for them doing that.”

Flores said he’ll be staying alert and following common-sense precautions like getting vaccinated, washing hands, and masking and social distancing if somebody nearby is infected.

“Parents and students just have to be mindful to protect themselves and others,” he said.

However, parents are reminded to monitor these potential symptoms daily before children go to school:

  • Fever of 100.4 degrees or higher
  • Cough, sore throat, congestion or runny nose
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Chills or muscle or body aches
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea

If students are ill, they’re urged to stay home.