Photo Caption: People walk past the Grand View Boulevard Elementary School marquee that still reads, “No School,” on Monday in Mar Vista. The Los Angeles Unified School District will not reopen campuses on Aug. 18.(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
By HOWARD BLUMESTAFF WRITER
JULY 13, 202011 AM UPDATED7:31 PM
Los Angeles campuses will not reopen for classes on Aug. 18, and the nation’s second-largest school system will continue with online learning until further notice, because of the worsening coronavirus surge, Supt. Austin Beutner announced Monday.
The difficult decision became unavoidable in recent weeks, Beutner said, as coronavirus cases have skyrocketed in Los Angeles County, and the district cannot come close to protecting the health and safety of some half a million K-12 students and about 75,000 employees.
“Let me be crystal clear,” Beutner said in an interview with The Times. “We all know the best place for students to learn is in a school setting.” But, he said, “We’re going in the wrong direction. And as much as we want to be back at schools and have students back at schools — can’t do it until it’s safe and appropriate.”
He added that it was important to let families and district employees know so that they could prepare for the rapidly approaching start of the school year, only five weeks away.
The superintendent also pointedly called for county, state and federal officials to provide leadership and funding for regular coronavirus testing and contact tracing. He said that school districts also needed clearer guidance on when and how to reopen. Beutner estimated it would cost $300 a year per person to test all students and staff members once a week.
“The dollars pale in comparison to the importance schools will play in reopening what was the fifth-largest economy in the world,” he said.
The decision pitted two imperatives against each other: the need to reduce health risks versus the need to return students to classrooms — where, experts say, they will learn more effectively, while also allowing their parents to resume a more routine work schedule, helping to boost a state economy in deep recession.