Los Angeles Public Schools to Close Due to Coronavirus Pandemic

The Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest district in the country, announced on Friday it will close as of Monday, March 16 because of fear of the coronavirus. San Diego public schools will also close.

On Friday morning, LA Unified Superintendent Austin Beutner said San Diego Superintendent Cindy Marten issued a joint statement:

“California has now entered a critical new phase in the fight to stop the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic,” they said. “There is evidence the virus is already present in the communities we serve, and our efforts now must be aimed at preventing its spread. We believe closing the state’s two largest school districts will make an important contribution to this effort. For that reason, we plan to close, effective Monday, March 16.

“Later today, we will be providing students, parents and staff with more information on our plans to continue providing learning opportunities for students during the closure. We have also directed staff at both districts to prepare to continue providing nutrition and other supports through family resource facilities.”

The press release did not say how long the closure would be, but in an email to LAUSD parents, Beutner specified it would be two weeks. LAUSD’s week-long spring break is scheduled to begin after April 3.

On Wednesday, a number of Los Angeles private schools closed, including Harvard-Westlake and Crossroads, and went to online curriculums. That day, Los Angeles School District board member Jackie Goldberg warned parents the closure was coming in a Facebook post, writing “It is not a matter of IF this will happen, but WHEN.” She said that parents should try to make accomodations for kids being home. The day before, the Board of Education had declared a state of emergency in order to give Beutner the power to close the schools if necessary. The CDC recommended “social distancing” necessary to prevent coronavirus from spreading rapidly is especially difficult among school-aged children.

On March 12, Beutner announced a partnership with PBS SoCal and KCET to try to align PBS content with the LAUSD curriculum, broadcasting series such as “NOVA” and “Ken Burns’s The Civil War.” According to the press release, “Los Angeles Unified teachers will have training utilizing PBS LearningMedia, a national resource that offers additional content to support educational assignments.”

In an email to LAUSD parents, Beutner elaborated on at-home learning, writing that, “Each student will have a plan which they will take home with them today and additional support will be provided to assist students as they transition to a different way of learning and teachers to a different way of teaching. For some students it will be continuing the lesson plan and instruction they have already been working on with their classroom teacher. For others it will be engaging with the curriculum and lessons which we and PBS SoCal will be providing. And for some, it will be a combination of the two.”

The press release offered no details about how food would will be distributed to students who rely on it. But the email to parents that the district will open 40 family resource centers for those who need them: “Family Resource Centers will open on Wednesday, March 18 and will be staffed weekdays from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. with trained professionals. Children will be able to have a warm meal, engage with their peers and pursue their different studies. And they’ll be safe.”

LAUSD has more than 600,000 students at 1,000 schools in kindergarten through 12th grade. There are also 200 public charter schools that will also close. The two districts combined serve more than 750,000 students.

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