Los Angeles School Hosts Commercial Shoot While Doors Remain Shut To Students

“It’s absolutely clear that [the Los Angeles Unified School District] has their priorities wrong.”
Dawn sunshine in the playground at Ruskin Park, on 30th July 2020, in Lambeth, south London, England.
Richard Baker/In Pictures via Getty Images

A Los Angeles elementary school opened its doors for a commercial on Wednesday, though it remains closed for classroom learning.

According to a report by CBSLA, children were filming for an Apple TV commercial on the shut down campus of Kester Avenue Elementary School. Jenny Hontz, a mom and grassroots organizer, first reported the incident. Hontz told CBSLA that she was shocked to learn that the school would open for a commercial, but not for in-person learning.

“It’s absolutely clear that [the Los Angeles Unified School District] has their priorities wrong,” Hontz told CBSLA. “The district has universal testing and contact tracing in place. They have every safety measure in place that exceeds the CDC recommendations.”

The school district blamed state rules for allowing schools to be open for filming but not learning.

“Filming on school district property is subject to state and county health standards, which are different than those which allow schools to provide in-person instruction,” a district spokesperson told The Daily Wire. “State rules currently allow filming at schools even though those same schools do not meet the state rules to reopen … No Los Angeles Unified personnel are present during filming and the number of people on site during filming is significantly lower than would occupy a school during a normal school day.”

Negotiations between United Teachers Los Angeles — the district’s largest teachers’ union — and the Los Angeles Unified School District have stalled as the union wants all teachers to be vaccinated before returning to school. In a Facebook Live broadcast, the union’s President Cecily Myart-Cruz said that full vaccination may still not be enough.

“We don’t believe that all employees being vaccinated is a sufficient trigger on its own for the full reopening of schools,” Myart-Cruz said.

On Wednesday, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom said he believes that schools can begin to reopen even if teachers are not fully vaccinated, so long as proper safety precautions are in place. “We can safely reopen schools as we process a prioritization to our teachers of vaccinations,” Newsom said.

Newsom’s calls to reopen schools without the vaccination of teachers are in line with new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said during a White House coronavirus task force meeting that “there is increasing data to suggest that schools can safely reopen and that the safe reopening does not suggest that teachers need to be vaccinated in order to reopen safely.”

Related: CDC: Schools Can Reopen Safely Without Vaccinating Teachers Against COVID-19

The California Teachers Association, the state’s largest teachers’ union, echoed the calls for complete vaccination. Union spokeswoman Claudia Briggs told EdSource that schools would not be able to open without prioritizing the vaccination of teachers.

“Our public schools are vital to California’s full recovery from this pandemic, and we cannot safely and fully return to face-to-face instruction without putting our public-school workers at the top of the priority list,” Briggs said.

Alongside vaccinations, California teachers’ unions are also demanding political policies that are out of the control of the school district. Demands include the passage of Medicare for All, the defunding of the police, and the closing of charter schools.

The Los Angeles Unified School District did not respond in time for publication.

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