Petition for Changes in LAUSD Re-Opening Plan

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Petition Goal: to request improvements in the school district’s COVID protocols. The protocols that are currently in place have not been reviewed by the school nurses or medical professionals, as acknowledged by Dr. Jerry Friedman, and consequently have many discrepancies. We seek to improve the protocols such that students can enter school safely and be protected against repeated relapse of outbreaks and shutdown. The list helps us hold the school accountable to making the changes which will ensure that our children can safely return to school. Dr. Pulver in the board meeting stated the district has chosen to abide only by the less stringent CDPH and OCHCA standards to establish the safety guidelines, despite acknowledgement that the CDC and various other government agencies have recommended more comprehensive guidelines for the utmost safety of the students and staff. We need to follow the highest levels of recommended guidance, rather than applying minimal safety measures for our children, teachers, staff, and the community.

**UPDATE** To request the district to provide proper PPE and cleaning supplies to the teachers.** (see bottom of petiiton)

LAUSD Families: Please sign this petition if you agree with this open letter and would like Dr. Pulver and the Board to address these key issues before reopening and to hold the district accountable to make these changes for our children's safety. Below is a summary of correspondence to Dr. Pulver:

Dear Dr. Pulver,

I am writing to you as a parent concerned with the district’s re-opening plan. I am grateful for the board working tirelessly during this time and hope to provide a second eye and request some crucial changes in COVID protocols. There is still over one month left to make changes, and I have faith in our board that you will hear our voices and make the necessary changes. This letter is not to spark debate, nor to give the impression that anyone is right or wrong. Everyone is making the best decisions we can in an unprecedented time and I am hoping to help provide my expertise and improve our COVID protocols. As a nurse there are some things that are concerning to me, as they go directly against the CDC recommendations for school opening guidelines. These concerns rest in science, and have also been relayed to me by many other parents in the district (most of whom are nurses, nurse practitioners, and doctors) which formed their decision making process to have their children enroll LosAl@home.

I am a parent to an incoming senior at LAHS, a 3rd grader at LAE, and a kindergartener at LAE. I myself graduated from LAHS, I volunteered as the school nurse at St Hedwig for 2 years, I worked as a nurse at LAMC for many years, and I have volunteered as room mom and teacher’s assistants for many years. With that being said, I take great pride and care very much about this community. I have made the decision to have all three of my kids do distance learning at this time, due to the district’s recent decision to apply for an elementary school waiver and move to a traditional model of learning.

I have been a registered nurse for 21 years, and my current position involves being a COVID Crisis Care Coordinator. I am in contact with many agencies daily including the CDPH, CDC, WHO, American College of Toxicology, OC Dept of Health, LA County Dept of Health, Johns Hopkins, Mayo Clinic, etc… I monitor county, state, and country dashboards of current infections, mortality rates, projected rates, etc… I spend hours every day pouring over statistics, case studies on treatments, and journal articles. I speak to doctors and medical practitioners from many states and many countries. My job required that I speak to dozens of COVID patients on a daily basis.  I hardly classify myself as being an expert, however I do consider myself well-informed in COVID-19. I am very concerned as a medical professional that the information you have disseminated at the school board meetings that you claim to be guided in science is false. Unfortunately, parents in this district look to you for guidance and become assured by your words, and therefore are being misguided. I would like to offer you some studies and/or articles that perhaps can guide you in your decision making process for reopening schools. For any articles that you like further medical journal articles to support, I will gladly provide them.

Children DO contract COVID-19. They DO transmit COVID-19. They ARE hospitalized at rates similar to adults, with 57% NOT having pre-existing conditions. They can progress to MIS-C, a multi-system inflammatory syndrome with fatal and permanent effects, for which TWO-THIRDS did not have underlying conditions prior. A recent study showed nearly 25% of teachers to be at high risk of severe disease. Children harbor 100 times the viral load in their nasopharynx and high viral load is directly correlated to severe disease. With only a small handful of schools reopening, we have seen a 90% increase in cases of children infected across the US. Schools in areas with high levels of COVID-19 community spread were advised they should not reopen against the judgement of experts. These children will be infecting their older siblings, parents, grandparents, teachers and school staff, and then further spread community transmission. Los Alamitos and Seal Beach already have drastically higher rates than most of the county per capita. Every instance that I have been to LAHS in the last few weeks, there has been zero staff wearing masks.

You stated you were in contact and under the advisement of Dr Chau, the director of the OC Health Care Agency. Dr Chau, in my personal opinion, should lose his medical license for the misleading and misguidance during this pandemic. He is not an epidemiologist nor a public health expert. He is a psychiatrist with a background in behavioral health. He was abruptly appointed to his position after Dr Nichole Quick unexpectedly “resigned” due to death threats received to her and her family, despite her strategic efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19. Dr Chau took immediate action to go against CDC and WHO guidelines to  eliminate the mask ordinance and instead ‘encourage” its usage, despite Governor Newsom’s mandate, and allowed businesses to reopen despite not meeting the states’ requirements to do so on June 12th, which caused a huge soar in case numbers. He also participated in the Orange County Department of Educations recommendation for schools to reopen without masks or social distancing, which was met with HIGH levels of criticism for being markedly rightwing. Not surprising, considering our board members political comments against Governor Newsom, and regarding “no d-mn local governance. I have no faith in government right now.” Politics has NO place in public health, especially during a pandemic.

I am highly disappointed and extremely saddened that our students are being forced to make a year-long decision based on a constantly changing situation. It is hard to not be seen as punitive or to not be seen as trying to force the decision to return to school. I was (skeptically) willing to have my children attend with a hybrid model, but now that the district has astonishingly chosen a traditional model against CDC guidelines there is no way I can allow my children to attend. Even though my children will be attending school through distance learning, I still feel it is my duty and obligation to advocate for the other children and families in this district, as well as the staff.

Key issues that need to be addressed:

1. Masks are only required for third grade and above

--The CDC and AAP recommends masks to be worn for children 2 and older

2. Allowance of children back to school after remaining fever free for 24 hours

--The CDC recommends waiting until 10 days after symptoms first appeared.

3. Allowance of children back to school after remaining symptom free for 72 hours, which is subjectively reported by parents.

-- Parents can dismiss symptoms or not report symptoms (as any school nurse or teacher can attest to happening constantly) in attempt to allow their children back to class, for childcare issues, or because they downplay the severity or existence of this illness.

4. Allowance of children to school with a temperature of 100.3

-- Issue: a kindergarten student is sitting next to someone with a low-grade fever possibly infected with COVID-19, whose desk is not spaced apart from her, and that child is not required to wear a mask.

5. Not requiring students to test when symptomatic, just encouraged.

-- Parents can avoid testing their children so that they would be allowed back to school in 3 days, and therefore avoid having a positive test which would keep them home for 14 days.

6. Removal of a sibling of a child who tested positive from their class for 14 days, but not the entire class/teacher of the sibling. Removal of students within 6 ft of a child who tested positive without face covering for more than 15 minutes.

-- CDC recommends anyone who has close contact with someone with COVID-19 to isolate for 14 days after their last exposure, which would include the teacher and entire class. With the current policy, if the entire class has a mask on and even children who have masks sitting next to a child who tested positive, will not be considered a close contact and therefore not quarantined.

-- Discrepancy with CDPH recommendations regarding what constitutes as close contact.

7. Hybrid for only first few weeks or no hybrid/cohort classes if could “stairstep” it for 1-3 weeks if off watchlist

-- CDC sites the fullest risk is with full-sized in-person classes and recommends co-horting groupings as static as possible

8. No reduced class sizes in traditional mode

-- CDC sites the fullest risk is with full-sized in-person classes

9. No desk spacing in traditional mode

-- CDC recommends space seating/desks at least 6 feet apart

10. Not having teachers rotate instead of students

-- CDC sites the fullest risk is with mixing between classes and recommends limiting mixing between groups

11. Lunch tables being used for lunchtime

-- CDC recommends having children eat meals in classrooms instead of in a communal area

12. Recess and playgrounds allowed, and only to be cleaned once weekly

-- CDC recommends closing communal spaces such as playgrounds or stagger use and clean and disinfect between use

13. Water bottle filling stations

-- CDC recommends students bring their own water. Students’ mouths touch the top of the water bottle, which then can touch the water filling station and begin a contamination process.

14. No cleaning between cohorts or cleaning of the desk boards

-- CDC recommends cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces at least daily or between use

15. Not re-closing schools if there is an outbreak at the school or if we are put back on the state watch list

16. Witnessing parents on campus with no masks and no enforcement of staff requiring them.

17. High School students leaving campus for lunch, which they likely will not be following social distancing or mask guidelines which is a danger to themselves as well as the establishments within the community they are eating at.

18. Board members wearing only face shields at school board meetings 

-- Per the CDC, “A face shield is primarily used for eye protection for the person wearing it. At this time, it is not known what level of protection a face shield provides to people nearby from the spray of respiratory droplets from the wearer. There is currently not enough evidence to support the effectiveness of face shields for source control. Therefore, CDC does not currently recommend use of face shields as a substitute for masks”

19. Statements made in the board meeting that children do not transmit the virus. 

-- The South Korean study you cited in the school board meeting:  “…a closer look at the South Korean study, and noticed a very important detail: It included fewer than 30 positive cases younger than 10 years old. Of the nearly 60,000 contacts that were traced in that study, only 237 were from children under 10. The low rate of spread among young kids may not have been because they are less likely to transmit the virus, but because they have largely been home over the last few months, and had few contacts as a result.”

-- I have personally seen the sequelae for children with MIS-C and from COVID-19. Coronary artery aneurysms, type I diabetes, etc... This is a new virus and we have no idea what the long term consequences will be.

20. CDPH Elementary Waiver and reopening elementary schools before California is off the watchlist

Our community has a very high per capita rate of infection. Los Alamitos has 158 cases, which is a rate of 1330.94 per 100K, with 17 deaths. Rossmoor has 31 cases, which is a rate of 259.86 per 100K. Seal Beach has 230 cases with a case rate of 885.41 per 100K, and 25 deaths. The county is sitting at a case rate of 109.4 per 100,000. That number is above the CDPH threshold of 25.0 per 100,000. In a poll of 246 LAUSD parents, 66% do not support the waiver and are not comfortable with their children entering school before OC is off the watchlist. However, the board is still moving forward with the waiver application. Some quotes from our parents and students about the waiver: I have a very spunky 9 year old. I told him that he could go to school on-campus if we get the waiver. He knows his dad works in education. “Dad, are we off the watchlist?”. “No.” Then h-ll no. That’s not safe”. Honestly, I let the use of h-ll slide.” | “I think getting off the watch list means that many parents will feel safe sending their kids to traditional school. Having a waiver means that there are still many covid cases in Orange County but we are willing to make an exception. It’s very unsettling for many.” | “Mommy, why would you send me back to school when you know it is not safe? I rather stay home and go to class online.”

21. An alternative to LosAl@Home

After consulting with parents in the high tech field and medicine, they have creatively brainstormed an alternative that we hope the district will consider which is live-streaming the classrooms instead of committing an entire year to LosAl@Home. Currently 65” 4k TV screens are cost-effective ($400-500) that parents can donate and volunteer to install in the back of the room for teachers. Classified staff, teachers who elect to stay at home can be utilized to moderate the zoom class, or a volunteer room parent can help moderate the students on zoom (ie. roll call, hand-raising, questions, and chats) while students can still learn at home and hold a place in their class until they feel safe to return into the classroom. This will help provide jobs in the meantime for our classified staff as well. In addition, live-streaming will help provide consistency for children who are sent home to quarantine for 14 days if a positive cases occurs. If OC is back on the watchlist, live-streaming will allow students the option to attend from home and decrease class size should the school choose to remain open.

To my understanding we recently lost an Oak parent, which is heartbreaking. My daughters’ father is a physician assistant working at a local ER, and he contracted COVID and was on a ventilator in ICU, and I can not put into words how difficult it was for my girls to say goodbye to their father (thankfully for them he pulled through).  I will continue to follow the advice of the AAP, AMA, CDC, WHO, any and all agencies regarding children and adults, as the kids aren't the only ones affected by attending school. Our community is not immune to this disease, and we are at high risk for infection. Our district opening against medical advice is putting our entire community at risk as children go back to school and get infected (whether asymptomatic or not) and then spread it to their families and throughout our entire community. I implore you and the board members to reconsider these points, as well as the concerns addressed in my email yesterday, before you reopen the schools.

 

**UPDATE**

Please provide the teachers of the district proper PPE and cleaning supplies to keep them and the children safe! The teachers were provided 4 masks, a bottle of hand sanitizer, a thermometer, and 2 face shields from the $5 million that was provided but the Governor for COVID supplies. The teachers are scared for their safety, and rightfully so. How are they going to be expected to clean desks with no disinfecting wipes provided? The have had no training other than a hand washing video. This is unacceptable and needs to be addressed!

For press inquiries and questions, please contact LAUSDpetition@gmail.com. Please follow the link to read the full length original letters and email reply from Dr. Pulver.