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When SoCal Schools Resume This Month, Who Will Return In Person And How Many Will Be Private School Students Vs. Public School?




Children wearing protective face masks arrive for the first day of classes of the new school year at the GuthsMuths elementary school during the coronavirus pandemic on August 10, 2020 in Berlin, Germany.
Children wearing protective face masks arrive for the first day of classes of the new school year at the GuthsMuths elementary school during the coronavirus pandemic on August 10, 2020 in Berlin, Germany.
Maja Hitij/Getty Images

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Back to school for fall 2020 is going to look different depending on where you live.

Districts across the country are exploring different possible ways to bring classes back in person entirely, especially for elementary and early middle school kids who have had more difficulty transitioning from classroom to online learning. In some states, however, there’s mounting concern about whether private schools, which are often smaller, have access to more funds and wealthy boosters and may not be subject to state regulations of public schools, might be allowed to go back in-person when public schools are not, and whether that pushes the already large gap between equality for public and private schools students even farther.  

Here in California, the state has said that schools, public, charter or private, in counties on the state’s COVID watchlist will not be able to return for in-person instruction unless they apply for and are granted a waiver to do so through their county public health office. Schools applying for the waiver will have to include a variety of materials with their application, including a full reopening plan that includes safety protocols for distancing, testing and sanitization as well as documentation that the district, principal or executive director of the school had consulted with labor partners, community organizations and parent groups about the reopening process. But because many private schools don’t have teachers unions, some are concerned that they will have an easier time getting their waiver granted than public schools, many of which will have to negotiate on reopening with labor unions and many of which don’t have access to the same kind of funding that private schools to to spend on retrofits to school facilities to help mitigate COVID-19 spread concerns.

Today on AirTalk, we’ll talk about who is going back to school at the end of the month here in Southern California, the process by which schools will have to apply for a waiver if they want to reopen for in-person instruction and hear from stakeholders in public and private schools about whether they see potential for a widening of the education equality gap because of it.

With guest host Kyle Stokes

Guests:

Carla Javier, KPCC/LAist reporter who has been following the story; she tweets @carlamjavier

Deborah Dowling, executive director of the California Association of Independent Schools, an organization representing 224 private and independent schools across the state

Julie Slayton, professor of clinical education at the University of Southern California; she spent almost 10 years working for the Los Angeles Unified School District in several roles, including assistant chief of staff to the superintendent and chief accountability officer