Frequently Asked Questions from Jackie’s First Virtual Town Hall, Part Two

Below is the second set of answers to the frequently asked questions from Jackie’s April 16th Coronavirus Pandemic Virtual Town Hall. The questions deal with the coronavirus and public health, the District’s support for parents during this time, and communications between the District, schools, and students’ homes.

The first set of answers, which address the most commonly asked questions regarding distance learning, teachers and instruction, and special education, can be found here.

We once again thank the over 400 viewers who participated in our first virtual town hall on the coronavirus pandemic. Don’t forget to tune in for our next virtual town hall on Thursday, April 30th, from 6:00-7:30 pm, which will be dedicated entirely to the issue of special education.


CORONAVIRUS AND PUBLIC HEALTH

When will COVID-19 antibody testing will be available for the general public?

It’s important to understand that antibody tests do not diagnose a person with COVID-19. In fact, once exposed to SARS-CoV-2, it may take several days for antibodies to be detected, so a negative result does not rule out infection.

LA County is only using antibody testing for public health purposes (surveillance) and is not currently recommending them on an individual basis.

There is limited information on whether the presence of SARS-CoV-2 specific antibodies can reliably determine if someone is no longer infectious or whether that person is immune to reinfection or how long any immunity may last. More research is needed to understand the protection people have who have already been infected with COVID-19.

 

If we continue with social isolation, will the curve flatten enough to go back to school next year?

That is the hope! Unfortunately, we cannot say with certainty what will happen in August/September, but if people continue to practice social distancing and take necessary precautions when in public (e.g. face coverings, etc.), we will be able to slowly reopen our communities and our schools. However, school settings will look different. We will need to reconsider and plan differently for activities and events such as assemblies, holiday performances, and sporting events.

The L.A. County Department of Public Health will be working with LAUSD to discuss this further and will provide guidance to schools in the coming months.

 

Most advanced countries are trying to open schools, especially elementary schools, in the first wave of easing stay-at-home restrictions. Will the same thing happen here?

We want children, especially younger children, to be back in school because in many situations this means a regular source of food, supportive services, and is the primary source of childcare so that parents can go back to work. However, we want to be cautious and move forward in a way that we can keep as many people as safe and healthy as possible.

The L.A. County Department of Public Health will be working with LAUSD and other school districts to discuss how to safely plan to reopen and will provide guidance to schools in the coming months.

 

Will there be a second wave of COVID-19 in the fall?

It’s a completely new virus, so it’s hard to know what will happen. For other similar viruses, infection rates tends to increase in the fall because children, teens, and young adults are back in school and more people congregate together. It will be very important to stress proper hand hygiene, cough etiquette, and physical distancing as we plan for returning to school in the fall.

 

DISTRICT SUPPORT FOR PARENTS

What support will parents receive from teachers about how to help their children?

Principals and teachers have adopted online learning sites that provide families with the materials used by the classroom teacher. If families want to get into contact with their child’s teacher and principal, they may do so by opening an LAUSD Parent Portal account and using the Grades and Assignments feature. The Parent Portal provides teacher and principal email information, as well as displaying a student’s work from the teacher through Schoology, the teachers’ online grade and assignment record book. A guide to register a student account is available on the same webpage. For assistance in opening an account and linking to a student’s information, families may call the (213) 241-1300 Family Helpline to speak with a live agent.

 

How are we helping parents understand technology?

LAUSD developed the following guides to help families strengthen their technology skills, beginning with creating an email, using online communication tools like Zoom and Skype, utilizing a Chromebook, and connecting to online learning platforms used by school sites such as Clever. Those are available here. We will also release a schedule with online workshops focused on technology and online learning.  Resources for families are available at https://achieve.lausd.net/pcss.

The District is also finalizing a series of video scenarios that help families learn about topics such as the Parent Portal, Schoology, math, literacy, art, web-conferencing, supporting students with disabilities and many others to assist with closing technology gaps. These will be available at achieve.lausd.net.

The District has been providing Chromebooks and internet hotspots to families who currently do not have the technology at home. Families may call (213) 443-1300 to make request devices if they have not received one.

 

How do we learn about the parent trainings?

Families may visit the Office of Parent & Community Services site at https://achieve.lausd.net/pcss to learn about family workshops as well as contact local district offices. Local district information is available at: https://achieve.lausd.net/Page/16611.

 

Will SSC meetings continue to know about allocations of funds for the 20-21 school year?

Yes, the school district organized a simple form highlighting the flexibilities provided by the Governor to committees like the School Site Council (SSC). Any School Site Councils that need to conduct business will continue to meet by use of online communication sites, such as conference call numbers, Zoom and Skype. For questions about SSC, you may contact the school administrator and visit the school website to see a posted meeting agenda. If families have SSC-related questions, you may also call (213) 443-1300.

 

What will happen to funds designated for parent center? Can that be used for parent trainings and workshops?

Unused family engagement funds, whether within categorical, Targeted Student Population or general fund programs, can continue to fund parent training and workshops, following approval procedures required by the specific programs.

Parent & Family Center renovation projects funded by bond dollars will commence when the District determines that it is safe to proceed with physical renovations. Families may contact the school administrator if a Parent & Family Center was scheduled to be upgraded using school site funds.

 

What ideas do you have to involve parent voice now and in the future?

  • School site engagement:
    • Families will continue to participate in structured leadership opportunities provided through the School Site Council, Local School Leadership Council, English Learner Advisory Committee, and other school councils. The central office at LAUSD established a process for meetings to continue online.
    • Families can continue to speak with their school principals and school site leadership by participating in online Coffee with the Principal sessions.
    • Families may also continue to email their teachers and administrators to ask questions about their child’s progress. To access your child’s teacher email account, visit the Parent Portal (see above) and click on the Grades and Assignments
  • Local District Offices/Communities of Schools
    • Local district offices are hosting town hall meetings to hear from our families and the public. Visit the following webpage for a link to each office at the bottom of the page: https://achieve.lausd.net/Page/16611.
  • Central Offices
    • The school district supports three important family and community committees that provide valuable voice and comments to the District. The three committees are the Community Advisory Committee (with a focus on Special Education), District English Learner Advisory Committee (with a focus on English Learners), and the Parent Advisory Committee (with a focus on English Learners, low-income, and foster students). To learn about the committees and become a member during the 2020-21 school year, visit https://achieve.lausd.net/Page/9648.
    • If you have individual questions and need assistance, contact the Los Angeles Unified Family Helpline at (213) 241-1300.

 

What role do community reps have now?  And what if our school doesn’t have one?

Parent & Family Center staff are assisting their school communities remotely and by staffing special projects such as the Grab & Go Meal Centers. They are an important part of the school community. If you have questions about your school site Parent & Family Center personnel, contact your school administrator.

 

DISTRICT-SCHOOL-HOME COMMUNICATIONS

Would it be possible for our principals to hold weekly meetings through zoom to keep us informed of all information that is going on at our schools and what we can anticipate as the school year comes to an end?

Superintendent Beutner holds weekly addresses to the school community each Monday. These updates are shown live on KLCS-TV and remain available for viewing anytime on the District’s website, lausd.net.

Additionally, Local Districts and Communities of Schools are hosting town halls to provide updates and important information as the school year comes to an end.

Schools are also hosting virtual meetings and are sharing information in a variety of ways.

The District has asked all schools to maintain frequent and on-going communication with families.

 

Some Principals have held Coffee with the Principal via Zoom, in coordination with the parent representative.  Is this something we can see in other schools?

Involving as many available staff members as possible in virtual meetings and outreach to families—including our parent representatives—is a promising practice that the District is recommending to all schools.

 

Can principals receive the information to send to parents? It’s tough for us to answer questions when we don’t know about subjects, such as the Amazon headsets.

Yes, the District will keep principals and schools in the loop through both central office and local district communication channels.

 

Is it possible to have a centralized website where families can find Southeast LA/District 5 school specific information?

The District’s lausd.net website is a great source of updated information. Please check out https://achieve.lausd.net/latestnews and http://achieve.lausd.net/resources.

Additionally, the websites of the Local Districts that cover Southeast LA and Board District 5 often contain important regional information. Check them out at https://achieve.lausd.net/ldeast, https://achieve.lausd.net/ldcentral, and https://achieve.lausd.net/ldwest.

 

Is there a place where parents or staff can get answers to frequently asked questions?

Yes. Families can call the District’s hotlines, which are open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday. For families, call (213) 443-1300. For employees, call (213) 241-2700.