Students were waiting in line to get through the health check at 9am at the Los Angeles High School campus Monday, August 16, 2021. Monday was the first day of in-classroom School in the Los Angeles Unified School District. For some students, this was their first time on campus in more than a year. (David Crane/The Orange County Register via AP)

(CALMATTERS) – A rapid-fire succession of Monday announcements signaled the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over in California. Hours after Newsom’s office said a fully vaccinated staff member had tested positive for COVID-19, the state Assembly announced a vaccine mandate for all staff members, a policy the state Senate is also considering.

Then, the state Department of Public Health recommended providers offer a third dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine to the approximately 800,000 Californians who are immunocompromised. Then, citing a 700% increase in COVID hospitalizations over the past two months, Newsom signed an executive order to expand California’s health care workforce and facility space. Lastly, the state Department of Public Health issued a new order requiring hospitals to accept transfer patients from facilities with limited ICU capacity.

Newsom’s executive order also gives schools more flexibility to fill short-term staffing shortages — a gap on display Monday, when hundreds of thousands of students returned to campus in San Francisco and Los Angeles Unified school districts.

But that wasn’t the only complication: Due to tech snafus with a health check app, many Los Angeles students were forced to wait in long lines outside campus, with some missing their first class of the day. LAUSD students and staff must also take weekly COVID tests regardless of vaccination status — a herculean effort involving 500,000 weekly tests at a cost of $350 million, 1,000 health care technicians and two daily plane trips to deliver the samples to a Northern California lab, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Yes, there’s a lot of trepidation; yes, there’s a lot of uncertainty. But the only thing we know is that we’re going to be back with our kids, in our classrooms, on the way to returning to normalcy. And that’s enough to celebrate.

Scott Mandel, a teacher at Pacoima Middle School Film, Media and Performing Arts Magnet