LAUSD announced today that due to the health and safety of community, they have made the decision to continue to close schools in August 2020. While the new school year will begin on August 18th as scheduled, it will not begin with students at school facilities.
LAUSD Superintendent, Austin Beutner, said today that the health and safety of the all in the school community is not something to compromise because Covid-19 continues to spread in the Los Angeles area and the virus is going to impact the new school year.
When the school year starts in August, the students have been absent from school for about 6 months, the longest stretch in the recent history. He acknowledged that for some students, there maybe a life long impact if they are not back in school soon. But since school facilities closed, health officials have learned that the virus is more contagious than they first thought and that a-symptomatic and pre-symptomatic individuals can transmit the virus to others.
A recent study by scientists shows a considerable portion of the spread of the virus was attributable to individuals who showed no symptoms. There has been a great deal written about the need for health practices in schools to prevent the spread of the virus: wash hands, sanitize surfaces, and wear masks to avoid spreading germs, and reconfigure school schedules and facilities to keep students a safe distance apart. These have become a familiar list and schools can and will find a way to handle these parts of a strategy, but these will not be enough when a meaningful number of silent spread of the virus might be on a campus.
Families and staff share this concern as a significant number of them have reservation about returning to school facilities until more is done to mitigate the risk. The Answer? test students and staff for the virus on a regular basis. Some claim children are less likely to carry the virus or they may suffer less severe medical consequences if they get the disease. But there's little research to back up these reasonings and claims.
Reopening of the schools will significantly increase the interaction between children and adults from different families. Testing the few will protect the many and experts have said testing at schools is the right approach. Tracing those who might have come in contact with an individual who has the virus is equally important. However, testing and contact tracing will cost money. It would cost about $300 per students over the course of a year to test the students and the staff every week, as well as family members who test positive for the virus. The federal government could help by providing funding schools need to make it safe and appropriate for students and staff to return. But, the cost for all schools maybe $15 billion dollars across the country.
Meanwhile, the students will continue learning online. The team of educators are working very hard to put in place plans for the new school year. Planning will continue for an eventual return to in-person classes, but no timeline was provided. In the meantime, teachers will be given expanded training in online education, and students will receive training to become better online learners.
The online education will include a regular schedule, standard-based instruction, including daily live engagement between students and teachers. Regular assessments of student progress will be used by teachers to guide their works with students and keep families informed. Where possible, schools will add instruction and one on one tutoring after school and on Saturday mornings to help students make up for lost time and accelerate their progress.
More detailed information about both online and at-school programs will be shared with final plans by the first week of August. For more information, please click here.