California’s two largest school districts will not open school buildings when classes begin in August.
The Los Angeles Unified School District and the San Diego Unified School District made the announcement Monday in a joint statement.
“The skyrocketing infection rates of the past few weeks make it clear the pandemic is not under control,” read the statement, issued on the same day that California Gov. Gavin Newsom re-imposed strict lockdown rules due to the state’s recent spike in confirmed coronavirus cases.
The statement said both school districts will return students to classrooms “as soon as public health conditions allow” and promised updates next month on when that might take place.
Both districts called for more resources from the federal government.
Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Austin Beutner elaborated on that theme in a separate statement.
“Federal officials have recently suggested students need to be in school and, like a Nike ad, told educators ‘Just Do It,'” he said Monday, referring to President Donald Trump’s call for schools to return to in-person instruction.
“We all know the best place for students to learn is in a school setting. While Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz might have said ‘Tap your heels together three times and say “There’s no place like home” and you’ll be there,’ actually returning to schools is not so simple,” Beutner added.
“The Federal government could help by providing the funding schools need to make it safe and appropriate for students and staff to return. The cost of testing all at schools, maybe $15 billion, will help make it safer for all 50 million students and their teachers in public schools across the country,” he said.
Beutner also noted that “students will have been absent from schools for about 5 months, the longest stretch in recent history. For some, in particular younger students, students learning English, students with learning differences and disabilities and those who were struggling before school facilities were closed, there may be a lifelong impact if they are not back in school sometime soon.”
A San Diego Unified survey about reopening buildings received responses from 59,000 parents, 58 percent of whom wanted school buildings reopened, Superintendent Cindy Marten has said, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune. The option of online learning on its own was supported by 11 percent of parents.
Beutner promised “a regular schedule with standards-based instruction, including daily, live engagement between teachers and students. Regular assessments of student progress will be used by teachers to guide their work with students and keep families informed.”
For Los Angeles’ upcoming school year, the daily requirements for the number of instructional minutes a student must take in the course of a school day will be 180 minutes for kindergarten, 230 for grades one through three, and 240 for grades four through 12, EdSource reported late last month.
Other major metro school districts such as Seattle and New York City are looking at a hybrid model in which students attend in-person classes for part of the week and learn online for the rest of the time, according to The New York Times.
Chicago has not yet announced its plans for the fall.
In the spring, fewer than 60 percent of Chicago Public Schools students connected to online remote learning for three or more days during the week of May 11, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
During the week sampled, 25 percent of Chicago’s high school students had no contact at all with their school.
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