Parents were furious with the Los Angeles Unified School District after maskless child actors were spotted on a closed campus for an Apple TV commercial shoot. This happened as students with special needs are specifically not allowed back into the classroom due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Most schools in southern California are still shut down due to COVID-19 concerns. But at Kester Avenue Elementary School in Sherman Oaks, kids were seen on campus by parents during an advertisement shoot.
Some of the young actors were reportedly maskless and they were not social distancing, which angered parents even more considering students at that school have been on lockdown at home for almost a year.
“Apparently, LAUSD is allowing dozens of kids on campus to work and do a shoot for Apple TV but they say it’s unsafe to have kids on campus to learn,” stated parent Jenny Hontz in an interview with ABC7.com on Thursday. “What on Earth? This is completely insane!”
“California has its priorities completely backwards,” Hontz said. “The fact that LAUSD says it’s safe to have kids working on campus to film for Apple TV, but they can’t have the highest-needs kids with disabilities on campus to receive their federally mandated services and they’re saying that’s not safe? That makes no sense.”
“About three-fourths of parents said their kids were regressing to the point of self-harm,” she said, after reportedly asking parents of special needs children how their kids are holding up amid virtual learning. “We have parents telling us absolutely horrible stories about their kids hitting themselves, hitting their parents, screaming every time they try to sign them onto Zoom. These kids are suffering and they’re not able to get an education on the screen.”
Hontz is the communications director for “Speak Up,” a parents organization whose primary focus is “engaging, educating and activating parents to advocate for excellent, equitable public education at schools, in communities and at the ballot box.” She is one of a number of parents who are outraged over the incident.
“Los Angeles Unified is working to bring students back to schools as soon as possible, and in the safest way possible… State rules currently allow filming at schools even though those same schools do not meet the state rules to reopen,” a statement from LAUSD said.
Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer came to the defense of the advertisement, stating once again that the film industry follows strict guidelines in order to conduct business.
“I hear the concern about why you can have a film shoot with children but you can’t have children at school,” Ferrer informed parents. “We are under the state guidelines. We need to get community transmission rates down then I think there will be more school communities that are reopening.”
Loads of kids on campus today at Kester Ave. elementary doing a shoot for Apple TV. So it’s unsafe to have kids w/ disabilities on @LASchools campuses for vital services & education, but it’s safe to have them working there? @lapublichealth #openschools pic.twitter.com/5BwGxho9ll
— Speak UP (@SpeakUpParents) February 3, 2021
Previously, in the fall of 2020, a small number of special needs students were allowed to return to school. However, as the number of coronavirus cases skyrocketed in California, students were once again sent home.
LAUSD and the teacher’s union have been unable to come to an agreement concerning safety protocols. So, as of right now there are no services being offered.
The teachers’ unions are refusing to resume in-person instruction before teachers are vaccinated which seems to contradict what health professionals are saying. Dr. Rochelle Walensky stated, “Vaccination of teachers is not a prerequisite for safe reopening of schools.” She cited CDC data that purportedly shows social distancing and wearing a mask significantly reduce the spread of the coronavirus at school.
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