LBUSD middle school students and high school seniors are back on campus

The Long Beach Unified School District’s step-by-step reopening is continuing as high school seniors returned to campus this week and middle school students headed back Tuesday.

Those seniors and 7,500 middle school students join the 14,000 elementary schoolers who were back on campus as of a few weeks ago.

“Cheers, tears, and smiles as seniors returned to campuses today,” LBUSD superintendent Jill Baker tweeted as she toured high school campuses on Monday.

The seniors returned in two groups, half Monday and half Tuesday, because they’ll be attending school every other day. The middle school students are back on campus today, and the phased reopening will conclude Monday when the remaining high school grades return.

In all, around 30,000 of the LBUSD’s 69,000+ students chose to return to campus to close out the school year, while the rest will remain online.

“While many students will return to campus over the next two weeks, we know that others have chosen to remain in distance learning for the remainder of this year, and our staff is mindful and responsive to this reality,” Baker said in a video message last week.

Still, the mood for many was celebratory this week, just as it was when elementary students returned to school.

As of last Monday, all LBUSD teachers are back in the classroom—even those teaching virtually—and as of next Monday, all 30,000 students who chose to return to campus will be back in the classroom. Those are significant milestones for a district whose campuses were largely closed a month ago, with half of its teachers working at home.

There’s been some parental pushback because the reopenings aren’t full-day instruction, but the reopenings this spring clear the path for a summer and fall where things look significantly more like normal.

Baker and the LBUSD Board have said several times that the plan is full-day reopenings in the fall, something Baker reiterated in her most recent message.

“As I shared in a previous message, we are planning for a full day of instruction for next year, along with an online academy for those students who choose that option,” she wrote.

Baker has also said the district will have expansive options for summer school to help students who fell behind catch up.

The district has also said it’s not planning on requiring students to get the COVID-19 vaccine when it’s approved for those under 16 years of age, which it currently isn’t. Baker noted that if the state chooses to require that vaccine when it’s available, the district would follow that guidance.

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