New L.A. County policy allows schools to apply for reopening waivers without union support

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County officials have made it easier for elementary schools to reopen for their youngest students under waivers, dropping a requirement for schools to provide a letter of support from employee unions as part of the application, The Times has learned.

The decision streamlines the application process and could potentially reopen classrooms to thousands of children, but it’s likely to raise concerns among teachers and other employees about possible exposure to health risks.

The move — announced by county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer in two conference calls with school and school district leaders Thursday — comes a day after county Supervisor Kathryn Barger announced that all schools in L.A. county are now allowed to bring on campus up to 25% of a school’s enrollment to serve students with special needs, especially students with disabilities or students who are learning English.

The elementary waiver would apply to students in transitional kindergarten through second grade. Under state rules, the county could grant waivers allowing schools to operate through sixth grade, but health officials aren’t ready for that step.

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