As coronavirus cases continue to drop and the less restrictive red tier becomes more tangible for Los Angeles County, residents are being urged to “recommit” to doing what it takes to help get children back in the classroom while also preventing another devastating surge.
“Our children have been through something that none of us experienced as children and we owe them all our support and our effort so that they can be as safe as possible as we move toward a more healthy future,” Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said at a Wednesday media briefing.
To help provide perspective on the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on L.A. County’s youngest residents, Ferrer detailed a program with the Los Angeles Unified School District which educates students and parents and encourages them to share their experiences. At Wednesday’s COVID-19 briefing, Ferrer read a handful of student testimonials including the following:
- “I have unfortunately lost family, some close to my mom, and it was really hard seeing my mom down.”
- “My dad lost his job for awhile and it impacted my family.”
- “I got COVID, so it was really scary because I have three brothers, and two of them have asthma. My mom also has it.”
- “My mental health took a big toll on me and in January my grandfather passed away and because of the situation we can’t hold a memorial for a couple of months.”
Ferrer, who became emotional while reading the students’ sentiments, said the powerful messages reinforce the need for everyone to continue to heed caution even as new cases dwindle.
“This is why we really need to recommit ourselves to using every single tool we have to reduce transmission, to vaccinate everybody who is eligible and to get to a place for all of our children to go back to school with the safety that’s required in the school community,” she said.
As of Monday, 1,799 schools in L.A. County are providing on-campus services for high-need students, and 35,000 staff members are serving on-campus students.
L.A. County remains in the most restrictive purple tier in the governor’s reopening plan, but the county’s adjusted case rate has dropped to 7.2 new cases per 100,000 residents. Ferrer said the new figures make it “very possible” for the county to enter the red tier as early as next week, which would allow more schools to welcome students grades 7 through 12 back to campus.
But for L.A. County to reach the red tier case numbers need to remain at or below 7 new cases per 100,000 residents for two weeks.
Ferrer said she is hopeful the county will stay where it needs to be to move forward, reminding that with spring break approaching people should refrain from travel and parties, keep face coverings on and maintain physical distancing.
“We’re in this together,” Ferrer added. “We’ve really worked hard to get back to a place where we have started to reopen our schools and we just can’t lose ground.”