Under the umbrella Destination Education, KTTV Los Angeles is airing a series of reports that delve into how this school year is unlike any ever experienced in the nation’s second largest school district.
Michaela Pereira remembers those sweet, innocent times when returning to school used to be a great feeling for students. “Picking out your little outfit, seeing all your friends, getting a new teacher and maybe being a graduating senior.”
Pereira, who anchors KTTV’s Good Day LA weekday mornings from 7 to 10, says there is that feeling still, but now there’s a darker side due to the pandemic that’s produced feelings of uncertainty and anxiety.
“Added are the parental concerns of students’ safety, especially with the kids under 12 who are unvaccinated.” Pereira says. “Are they going to be anxious in the classroom?”
In the beginning of August, Fox O&O KTTV began a month-long news series reporting on the critical issues related to the return of full-time, in-person learning in Southern California since the pandemic started.
Under the umbrella Destination Education, KTTV’s series of reports delve into how this school year is unlike any in the history of the nation’s second largest school district.
There’s a hunger for information about what’s new when it comes to school and the pandemic because the information can change every day.
Pereira says the station didn’t have to look far to see that hunger. “There was this building anxiety about what school was going to look like this year” during editorial news meetings, she says.
Pereira says Destination Education is KTTV’s deep dive into what’s keeping parents awake at night and the concerns people in the community are having about back to school.
One of the first orders of business for Destination Education was determining which schools were open and when. That may seem simple until one realizes how spread-out school districts are in the L.A. area. “You’ve got charter schools, you’ve got private schools, you’ve got public schools,” Pereira says.
Different counties and different school districts equal different times.
KTTV posted a full list on its website when each school district was set to open, but as they opened, that presented a logistical challenge to make sure each district received enough coverage, Pereira says.
Conversations with producers and reporters in daily planning meetings and before and after the morning news make that process sound like a tightly orchestrated military campaign.
“We send our reporters out there when there is a first day of school to each of the different counties to show what it was looking like for each of those school districts,” Pereira says.
One of the missions of deploying the feet on the street was to get a ground-level assessment within the districts that the more vulnerable students aren’t looked over, Pereira says. “Kids with learning disabilities, kids with physical disabilities, our LGBTQ plus kids — were they getting the support they needed?”
At the same time the station is on the ground, it’s checking in with California’s highest authority on the state’s public education, Tony Thurman, the superintendent.
“We have been in fairly regular contact with him,” Pereira says.
Despite all the processes and protocols, the testing, temperature checks and vaccine verifications — some resulting in long lines and backups — it’s the price of going to back to school these days, Pereira says.
“All it takes is one match to light a forest fire,” she says.
Pereira knows there are conflicts, concerns, worries and anxieties out there, but working together to find “solutions seems more powerful,” she says. “Everybody wants these kids to be safe. They look to us for protection and guidance and leadership and coaching.”
What has struck Pereira through all the stories and conversations this month, she says, is the resilience of the kids.
“I am really moved by how they are managing this. They have the capacity that we adults often don’t.”
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