Marking major milestone for LBUSD, all campuses are now open for students who want to return

More than a year after schools shuttered to prevent the spread of COVID-19, all students who opted to return to in-person instruction are now back in class in Long Beach Unified.

The last cohort of students, those in grades 9-11, returned for the remainder of the spring semester Monday, following the return of seniors in grade 12 and middle school students last week and elementary school students in late March.

All 85 LBUSD campuses are now open, 409 days after schools closed on March 13, 2020. In all, about 30,000 of the district’s roughly 69,000 students chose to return to campus, while the rest will remain at home doing distance learning.

Some parents have continued to push for a further reopening to all-day schooling as opposed to the hybrid half-time schedule the district adopted under California Department of Public Health guidelines. However with only eight weeks of instruction left in the school year, it’s unlikely that would happen.

Still, there are signs of optimism throughout the district; when the 2021-22 school year begins on Aug. 31, it will be a full re-opening with full school days.

“We are also planning for full days of school, starting in the fall,” said LBUSD superintendent Jill Baker in a message to LBUSD families last week. “That means an all-day, in-person schedule for all students who want that (and the option for families to choose an online program if they desire). Of course, our greatest plans area always subject to shifts in our community’s health, but we are truly hopeful.”

The LBUSD administration building is also opening to the public today for the first time since the pandemic began. This week’s Wednesday LBUSD Board of Education meeting is scheduled to be a busy one, with the board scheduled to vote on a new contract for teacher that runs through next school year.

The board will also vote on a resolution to repeal the COVID-19-related “emergency delegation of authority” to the superintendent. On March 14 last year, the board passed a resolution ceding decision-making authorities to the superintendent to allow the district to move quickly in shutting down campuses and planning for distance learning.

According to the agenda item, the repeal of those emergency powers comes because of optimism about a return to regular schooling.

“Hospital capacity is healthy, the Long Beach community vaccinations are proceeding, and the rates of infections have gone down,” reads the item. “The community has reduced the risk of the Board being unable to meet to make timely decisions.”

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