El Segundo campus opens to TK-2 students after nearly a year of closure due to pandemic

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The Center Street School in El Segundo welcomed dozens of young students Tuesday, the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic closed California campuses nearly a year ago.

The El Segundo Unified School District campus had successfully applied for a waiver to hold in-person classes for students in transitional kindergarten to second grade. It’s just one of nearly 300 L.A. County schools to receive approval from L.A. County.

For the Center Street School, the reopening affects about 235 students and 25 school employees, according to the district’s application.

The school, located at 700 Center St., is offering a hybrid of virtual and in-person classes and only plans to hold 2 1/2 hours of instruction four days a week for each class of 12 students.

The campus installed plexiglass for every desk, and there are separate sessions that start at 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. to reduce the number of students present. Guardians will have to fill out a health screening form online before class each day.

Parents who dropped off their children on campus Tuesday expressed some relief. According to district Superintendent Melissa Moore, the reopening has given families hope.

Parent Eduard Layne said, “It’s the sense of normalcy. It’s the sense that the kids get to have their friends around, learn directly from the teacher instead of a tablet or a device.”

Janel Meyer noted that she had other children at home and said, “Two-and-a-half hours, it’s great.”

Some staffers opted out of teaching in person because they have not been vaccinated against COVID-19, said the principal, Martha Monahan.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has said that given the shortage of doses, demands to inoculate all teachers before school starts were unrealistic. Currently, the state prioritizes the vaccination of health care workers, nursing home residents and people 65 and older.

“There’s only one frustration that I have, it’s that when the governor set up this plan to roll out schools, he didn’t prioritize teachers as far as the people who would be getting the vaccinations,” Monahan said. “Because I know that my teachers would be feeling far better if they were going back vaccinated. Unfortunately, none of them are.”

The El Segundo Unified School District said it will consider adding third-graders to the roster of students who can return to campus at a board meeting next week.

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