On Monday, Los Angeles and San Diego public schools announced they will be starting the school year remote-only in August as coronavirus cases rise in Southern California.
“The skyrocketing infection rates of the past few weeks make it clear the pandemic is not under control” read the joint statement.
On Sunday, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported 3,322 new cases of COVID-19 and 18 deaths. Local health department data show a rebound in hospitalizations compared with May.
Los Angeles Unified School District did not detail when, or under what conditions, schools might be able to open for in-person learning, even on a part-time or staggered schedule. San Diego Unified School District promised a “public assessment” by Aug. 10 of how soon they might return to physical classes.
LAUSD is the nation’s second-largest school district, and the decisions together affect over 700,000 students and their families. They come amid pressure from the federal government to open, and from local teacher unions to stay remote. On Thursday, United Teachers Los Angeles called for keeping schools closed. The union noted the disparate impact the virus has on Black, brown and indigenous communities, and that the district employs over 60,000 people. The statement read: “When politicians exhort educators and other workers to ‘reignite the economy’, UTLA educators ask: who are you planning to use as kindling?”
In his public statement, LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner also promised to improve the quality and accessibility of remote learning. He pledged “daily, live interaction,” “all students with device and internet access,” and support for English learners and students with disabilities. In the spring, LAUSD was unusual among large districts in partnering with local public television as part of its remote learning plan, an acknowledgment of a deep digital divide in the city. Also under an agreement reached last spring, LAUSD teachers were not required to provide live video instruction.
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