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The Pasadena Unified School District on Thursday joined a growing number of Los Angeles County school systems that are swiftly putting plans in place to begin bringing elementary students back to campus by the end of the month, ending a year of pandemic-forced closures.

The discussion in Pasadena typified those unfolding in many school districts in the county as board members consider a host of issues: safety measures, vaccines for teachers and staff, parent decisions — some who are eager to send their children back and others who are worried and want to continue distance learning.

“This weighs heavily on us,” said Pasadena Supt. Brian McDonald, after three hours of public comment, with many people voicing concern about returning to in-person instruction. Some teachers pushed back against the idea of reopening campuses without fully vaccinating staff. But the board agreed it is time to begin a phased-in reopening in the 17,400-student district.

“Given the safety measures that we have in place, and the fact that every single employee will have the opportunity to receive the vaccine, we believe it’s time now to return our students to in-person learning.”

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