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Los Angeles Area Pediatricians Lead COVID Mitigation and Safety Efforts for Los Angeles Unified School District’s Fall Reopening (07-26-21)

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Shannon Haber, 213-393-1289                             July 26, 2021

Los Angeles Area Pediatricians Lead COVID Mitigation and Safety Efforts for Los Angeles Unified School District’s Fall Reopening

Dr. Smita Malhotra and Dr. Rosina Franco are part of Los Angeles Unified’s 

efforts to ensure a safe return to campus

LOS ANGELES (July 23, 2021) – The first day of school is around the corner, and to ensure a safe return to campus, two Los Angeles area pediatricians are leading the Los Angeles Unified School District’s COVID-19 mitigation and safety efforts: Dr. Smita Malhotra is medical director, and Dr. Rosina Franco is senior physician for Student Medical Services. Both women are local physicians, and parents who are eager to assure families that their children are in good hands. 

“We are confident Dr. Malhotra, who empowers families to take charge of their health and wellbeing, and Dr. Franco, who champions high quality health care for underserved communities, will bring much-needed support to our families as we return to school and our students resume their learning,” Los Angeles Unified Interim Superintendent Megan K. Reilly said. 

Dr. Malhotra comes to Los Angeles Unified with more than a decade of experience as a pediatrician and after working for the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, where she served as director of a newborn nursery and co-founded a program aimed at building resilience in children experiencing trauma. She is also author of “The Newborn Handbook,” which was published in August 2020, and a frequent contributor to The Los Angeles Times, The Huffington Post and The Washington Post.

“This fall, students will resume full day in-person instruction five days per week,” Dr. Malhotra said. “This will have tremendous benefits for the social and emotional well-being of our students.”

Dr. Rosina Franco is the youngest daughter of Mexican immigrants, and a former student of Los Angeles Unified. She is certified by the American Board of Family Practice and holds interests in adolescent and pediatric medicine, as well as women's health. She has served families in Los Angeles communities for more than 20 years -- 10 years as a District School Physician, and more recently as Senior Physician for Student Medical Services.

“It’s important to me as a Latina physician to help our communities understand the importance and the science behind the vaccines in order to help keep our communities safe and healthy,” Dr. Franco said. “The school district has been working closely and fervently with the Los Angeles Department of Public Health to put many systems in place to help keep students, employees, and families safe. If we all do our part by getting vaccinated, wearing masks when around people outside of the household, and practicing proper hand hygiene, we’ll contribute to everyone’s wellbeing, especially our students.”

A safe return to campus includes encouraging families, particularly those living in areas most affected by the pandemic, to seek further information about vaccines and ensure that family members who are eligible are vaccinated.

Over the course of the past year, Los Angeles Unified has provided various resources aimed at ensuring community safety including: a Los Angeles Unified Back to School website that includes a health and safety plan to help families follow COVID safety protocols through testing and use of a Daily Pass; a COVID hotline for families listing Los Angeles Unified testing sites; a Student and Family Wellness Hotline (213.241.3840) offering mental health support and other vital assistance; more than 20 school-based vaccination centers in collaboration with community healthcare partners, and more recently, a Welcome Back to School Family Guide offering critical information for a safe return to campus.

“It is critical that our families get vaccinated,” Dr. Malhotra said. “Because the safety and well-being of our families is our top priority, we are encouraging vaccinations. We are an interconnected community. These safety measures are not only for us, but for everyone around us.”

For more information about Los Angeles Unified’s plans for a fall safe return to campus, COVID safety protocols, please visit