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Superintendent Austin Beutner Suspends School-Based Instruction and Childcare Due to Dangerous Increase of COVID-19
By Sentinel News Service
Published December 10, 2020

(Courtesy photo)

With COVID-19 case levels in Los Angeles at record highs – nearly three times higher than those in San Francisco and twice those in New York City – Superintendent Austin Beutner today announced the suspension of all school-based instructional and childcare programs for the rest of the Fall semester.

Los Angeles Unified has been providing one-on-one and small-group tutoring for students, and those efforts will now shift to online. Los Angeles Unified is also temporarily suspending childcare which was provided on campus for children of school-based employees and high-needs families, as well as athletic conditioning programs for student athletes. The changes on school campuses will all be in effect by December 10.

“Because of the extraordinary high level of COVID-19 in the Los Angeles area, it is no longer safe and appropriate to have any students on campus,” Superintendent Beutner said. “We will also be asking those who are currently working at schools to work from home if at all possible for the rest of the semester

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“This is greatly disappointing to all who have been working so hard to build a proper foundation for students’ return to campus. Clean schools, proper health protocols and COVID-19 testing for all at schools make a difference but they don’t provide immunity to the virus,” he continued. “We can’t create a bubble for the school community. When things are so dangerous in the communities we serve, it has implications for schools as well.

(Courtesy photo)

“My hope is this action today will not only protect the health and safety of all in the school community but will keep the focus where it needs to be – getting the spread of COVID-19 down to levels where schools can safely reopen.”

Los Angeles Unified’s Grab & Go Food Centers, which have provided more than 85 million meals along with 10 million items of need supplies as part of a nation-leading, school-based relief effort, will continue to operate at school sites. The district will also continue its free COVID-19 testing program at schools, which is helping protect the health of all in the school community and will also provide important information needed to reopen schools when it is safe and appropriate to do so.

Los Angeles Unified continues to plan for a return students to schools as soon as possible, in the safest way possible. While a new survey of families found the vast majority expressed support for Los Angeles Unified’s efforts to provide online instruction, more than one-third said they want their children back at schools.

“Time away from teachers, friends and the structure of a classroom is harming children,” Superintendent Beutner said. “Many students are struggling with online learning, in particular young learners, students learning English, students with differences and disabilities, and students who were struggling before school facilities closed. The gaps are more pronounced in some of the highest needs communities we serve. The desire and capacity of all students is the same, but for some students online education just isn’t working.”

Superintendent Beutner also outlined plans for the eventual reopening of schools, and he called on federal and state officials to provide funding and operational support for the effort. This Marshall Plan for Schools includes:

 

  • A safe environment that includes cleaning and sanitizing of facilities and personal protective equipment for students and staff.

 

  • School-based COVID-19 testing and contact tracing to identify and isolate those with the virus to help reduce the risk for all in a school community.

 

  • Mental-health support for students to address the significant trauma that will accompany them back to classrooms.

 

  • Funding for in-person instruction next summer to help students recover from learning losses due to the pandemic.

    (Courtesy photo)

“The dire situation faced by schoolchildren deserves the same extraordinary response we have come to expect after floods, wildfires and hurricanes in order to help return students to schools as soon as possible in the safest way possible,” Superintendent Beutner said. “Our country needs to address the ‘national emergency’ in schools before it becomes a national disgrace that will haunt many children for the rest of their lives.”

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