The Los Angeles Unified School District kicks off its new academic year in a few days with some students returning to campus for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic. But parents are increasingly concerned as the Delta variant is driving up COVID infections and sending more children to hospitals.
That may be why some LAUSD parents do not feel comfortable sending their kids back to the classroom yet. Roxann Nazario is one of them, and she’s decided to have her eighth-grade daughter attend an online charter school this year.
“I think parents at the end of the day need to be able to choose what's best for their child,” says Nazario, who is also a parent engagement coordinator with Speak Up, a nonprofit that advocates for public education improvement within the LAUSD. “If [parents] feel comfortable, and they feel safe letting their child return, I think that that decision should be up to them.”
Given significant learning loss in the last school year, parents like Nazario are demanding LA Unified help close achievement gaps for certain students.
“What I'm hearing from parents is [the need for] more one-on-one tutoring. If we can't do one-on-one because there are too many students, maybe they can tutor cohorts of kids that are in the same grade and are having trouble in the same subject.”
Another big concern for parents is their children’s mental health. While many are excited to be back with their friends, others may struggle to adjust to the new surroundings after 16 months of the pandemic. That’s why some parents want the LAUSD to provide resources such as therapy for certain children to help seamlessly transition to in-person social interactions.
“I saw this with my own daughter. Even for kids who like to be at home, it was still very challenging. Of course, for the kids that are extroverted and outgoing and active and play sports, it was even harder for them.”