Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board Member Scott Schmerelson visited several schools on Monday, Aug. 16 — the first day of in-person instruction for many schools in more than 18 months because of the pandemic — and was made aware there were some foul-ups beyond just finding new classrooms while social distancing.
One key issue was students clearing COVID-19 protocols in a timely manner. To enter campuses, students had to use the district’s “Daily Pass,” its health-screening system where a scannable code is entered into a district website from an app on a cell phone, it shows the student is healthy enough to enter the campus. And it must be done daily.
If they did not have a phone or used the app, students or their parents had to answer questions and show proof of a negative COVID test before entry was granted.
But even those using the app were delayed due to “high volume use,” according to its website, which also told students and parents it needed them to wait “while we finish collecting data from others.”
Some entry lines at schools went around the block, and had waiting times of 30 minutes or longer.
Schmerelson, whose Third District includes Chatsworth, Granada Hills, Mission Hills, Van Nuys and Woodland Hills, defended LAUSD’s requirement using the app.
“I think parents learned today that we weren’t playing with that app,” said Schmerelson, who spoke with the San Fernando Valley Sun/El Sol while visiting Cleveland Charter High School on Monday.
“I think some thought they could just come to school and not show a pass. They learned you must have the pass. If they all had the pass ready to go, it would have been a much smoother today.”
But there was obvious dissatisfaction with the pass in parts of the Valley, particularly with how long it took some parents to actually get their children inside the schools.
Parents vented their frustrations to the San Fernando Valley Sun/El Sol on its Facebook page.
“I showed up around 7:30 and my 6-year-old was standing in his designated line for over one hour in the heat,” wrote Rafael Araiza. “This is unacceptable. I pray they close the schools.”
“Yes, long lines! Very unorganized!” wrote Marisol Garcia.
Not everyone said they struggled with the Daily Pass. Ramiro Cubik Pulido wrote that there were no problems at his son’s school. “Got there a little early,” he stated.
The district website states students, parents and visitors could access the Daily Pass on any computer, tablet or mobile device at dailypass.lausd.net. But that doesn’t help those without phones or access to technology.
Schmerelson pointed out that technology wasn’t the only way students and parents could complete the process.
“They can do it on paper. And if you don’t have a printer — I can understand that, too — you can answer the questions,” Schmerelson said. “The kids know so much about the Daily Pass; I said to [a student on Monday] ‘you can teach your mom how to work it — the mom has the cell phone.’ But yet the teacher had to do it. It could have been ‘1-2-3.’”
Schmerelson went on to say he believes parents do want their kids in school because “there’s nothing like in-person learning.”
“And I think parents are coming around,” he said. “It will take some time. And we have to educate the parents on how to use the Daily Pass. To me, that’s the biggest thing. We have everything else under control.”
Interim Superintendent Megan K. Reilly, who was also visiting Cleveland, believed most issues like the Daily Pass will recede as the fall semester continues.
“I think that it will naturally progress,” Reilly said. “The one thing that is out of our control is what happens with the Delta Variant. And we’ve shown we have the ability to adapt when necessary. That’s why we’ve put in extra safety protocols in place. I’m confident in what we’re doing.”