California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond joined Long Beach Unified School District Superintendent Jill Baker and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia today as they visited Roosevelt Elementary School on the first day of school.
For the first time since local school campuses closed in March of 2020 due to the global coronavirus pandemic, the Long Beach Unified School District welcomed most of its students back to in-person learning as the school year began. The school district had already successfully implemented health and safety protocols during the spring 2021 semester to provide in-person instruction to roughly 35,000 students, and again for about 14,000 students during summer school. But today was the first time in two years that local schools started the fall semester with nearly all students on campus.
“There is no question that in-person instruction is the best way to meet the academic needs and social emotional well-being of students,” Thurmond said. “I want to commend school districts like Long Beach Unified that have worked tirelessly to put into place the layered mitigation strategies and provide the necessary education and resources to open classrooms safely. Vaccines, wearing masks and regular testing are essential to keeping our schools safe and open.”
Thurmond toured classrooms and spoke with students, teachers, administrators and other visiting officials including Los Angeles County Office of Education Superintendent Debra Duardo and members of the LBUSD Board of Education. He then joined Mayor Garcia and LBUSD Superintendent Baker to address news media on the school playground.
“This first day of school for LBUSD was made possible by important partnerships between the school district and our city health department,” Mayor Robert Garcia said. “LBUSD was the first major school district in California to begin vaccinating its teachers and staff, and that effort has played an important role in getting our kids back in the classroom. To all our students, we support you and we’re cheering you on as you begin the fall semester.”
The Roosevelt Elementary visit was one of LBUSD Superintendent Baker’s many visits to local campuses today, as an estimated 68,000 students returned to in-person learning. About 1,000 students will learn via a newly offered independent study program designed for families that are not quite ready to send their children to campus.
“We’ve been waiting so long for this exciting day,” Baker said. “The positive energy on our campuses is palpable. Seeing our amazing students in person is so inspiring. Our students are resilient, attentive and eager to learn, and we’re ready to give them our best efforts. We know that for most students, the best place to learn is in a physical classroom. We’re so grateful for the tremendous community-wide effort that has made this special day a reality.”
LBUSD’s health and safety protocols for the start of school include:
- Everyone is expected to wear face masks while indoors.
- Everyone is being asked to assess for COVID-19 symptoms prior to arrival on campus.
- Employees are required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or submit to weekly, asymptomatic COVID-19 testing.
- Unvaccinated students are being tested weekly for at least the first three weeks of school.
- Ventilation has been optimized in classrooms.
- Custodial staff are providing additional cleaning and sanitization of school facilities.
- Good hand hygiene (including washing and sanitizing) is continuously encouraged
- Case reporting, contact tracing and – if necessary – home quarantine will be implemented.
To learn more about LBUSD’s COVID-19 prevention efforts, visit lbschools.net/coronavirus.