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The emotional push and pull over schools intensified Friday as advocates filed litigation to pry campuses open in Los Angeles, even as teachers in Orange County pleaded for them to shut down.

Amid an unprecedented surge in COVID-19 infections and many students faring poorly and failing multiple classes in online learning, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find a tolerable middle ground among school leaders, parents and teachers in the nine-month education crisis that has all but shut down campuses.

Days after the Los Angeles Unified School District announced it was closing all campuses for limited in-person instruction, two children’s advocacy groups asked the state’s highest court to order a partial — but still substantial — reopening to serve the youngest students and those with special needs, such as students with disabilities and those learning English.

In contrast, many school districts in Orange County were able to reopen campuses in the fall when virus rates were subsiding. But with the county’s emergency medical systems near meltdown, teacher union leaders have overwhelmingly called for a temporary but total campus shutdown, saying the risk to staff, students and their families from COVID-19 is simply too great.

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