As of August 26, The Mercury News reported that more than 100 such waivers had been granted to other schools in the state of California, and only four applications had been turned down.
The coalition told county officials that their schools are prepared to meet the needs of families who want to keep their children home with hybrid plans of virtual and in-person learning, but that in-person learning should be phased in as soon as possible.
Poor families who are struggling to afford daycare for their children who would otherwise be in school are among those who suffer the most with continued school closures, the coalition stated.
"For many families, the cost of school-hour day care is impossible to afford and inaccessible to reach. Affording $200-$500 per child, per week disenfranchises the very communities who are already disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic," the group stated in their letter to the county board of supervisors.
Schools are also being treated differently than other businesses that have been allowed to reopen, the coalition added, and children have accounted for a very small percentage of the coronavirus cases seen in the county thus far.
"Life during the pandemic has gone on for many in our community – why not students?" the group stated.
"Restaurants, gyms, hair salons and barbershops, libraries, hotels, childcare and day camps, some retail and other consumer outlets are open with modifications. In fact, according to LACDPH (Los Angeles County Department of Public Health), among the 7,238 day-care facilities that have been open as of the end of July, 75 cases among children have been reported. This equals approximately 0.00029 percent of total cases in LA County."
The coalition stated in a press release that it is seeking four "action steps" from county officials. The first is that county officials "communicate transparent, data-driven public health metrics to reopen schools."
The second is that transitional kindergarteners through third graders are allowed to return to in-person learning "immediately" under the state waiver guidelines.
Third is that schools will be allowed to "phase-in reopening of upper grades (4-8 and 9-12) on two-week intervals based on achievement of public health milestones aligned with the State of California's Blueprint for a Safer Economy."
And finally, the group asked for the restoration of the Department of Public Health's K-12 working group "to provide regular input to department leadership on guidance and protocols from school administrators and local health care experts."
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"Students have no do-overs with regard to their education. Students are falling behind and suffering emotionally. Distance learning is an inadequate solution for many children," the coalition concluded in its letter.
"The lack of academic and social development of students by remaining isolated will not only impact their own lives, but those of our future as a society. A safe and balanced approach to in-person instruction starting with our youngest students is possible. We need you to act."
The coalition is urging concerned families to contact the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to advocate for a return to in-person learning, through a form that can be found on the California Catholic Conference's website.