Los Angeles School District school year won't start with students at facilities amid COVID-19 pandemic

Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner announced Monday that the upcoming school year will not start with students taking in-person classes.
LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner announced Monday that the upcoming school year will not start with students taking in-person classes.

"While the new school year will begin in August, it will not start with students at school facilities. The health and safety of all in the school community is not something we can compromise," Beutner said.

The superintendent cited the ongoing spike in coronavirus cases, and the positivity rate as causes for concern.

"The rate of those who tested positive for the virus is approaching 10%, well above the level of 5% the World Health Organization guidelines say is appropriate for communities to reopen. The comparison with New York should also be a cautionary note for all of us in Los Angeles," he said.

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In-person learning could resume if the situation dramatically improves.

"This is great that the district is siding with us, really siding with science, and thinking about and caring about the health of our members as well as our school communities, our parents and our students," said UTLA President Cecily Myart-Cruz.

The district will make adjustments to their distance learning protocols, adding more structure with teachers calling attendance, tutoring on Saturdays if students fall behind and a set class schedule.

If any of the other 79 school districts in L.A. County decide to offer a physical component to school, public health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer laid out reopening protocols, which include requiring everyone in classrooms to wear masks.

"Extracurricular activities will be limited and may include online meetings for clubs," Ferrer said during a Monday press conference. "Team sports that don't allow for physical distancing aren't permitted to start up again. Hand washing and hand sanitizing will be encouraged and monitoring, especially for our youngest children."

Gov. Gavin Newsom applauded the district's decision to keep its facilities closed and said this is exactly why the state earmarked $5.3 billion of this year's budget for distance learning.
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