LAUSD is the 2nd largest school district in the US, and the largest in California, serving nearly 700,000 students, and employing 75,000 staff and teachers. Austin Beutner became Superintendent in May of 2018, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, he has been giving weekly updates about the school district. We will do our best to keep you informed on what’s happening.
June 29th update: LAUSD Parent and Staff Survey Results
LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner said in his weekly briefing this week that, while “no decision has been made yet about a possible return to school facilities” for the 2020-2021 school year, they have heard from parents and staff in a recent survey they conducted and a significant number said, “based on current circumstances”, they do not want to send their kids back to campus.
Beutner noted that the District’s “goal is to have as many students and staff in school each day while doing the best we can to mitigate the spread of the virus.” But he noted that even with a return to campus, “not all students can be at school at the same time.”
Health and Safety a Top Concern
Everyone surveyed wanted to insure there were sound health practices followed at schools, once students and staff do return. Things like cleaning and sanitizing, as well as wearing masks and keeping distance between people, were mentioned by survey respondents as being important to them, and which LAUSD says they think can be implemented.
Beutner went on to say that the survey respondents also said they would want “more and better information about the spread of the virus in each school community,” and that mean stronger contact tracing and testing, with policies in place to limit exposure and for each to understand their risk.
This would of course cost a significant amount of money, and LAUSD’s position in that “state and local health authorities should be responsible for this – they have both the funding and expertise to handle the implementation.”
He went on to make the case for it like this:
“The investment in testing and contact tracing will also benefit the public health of the entire community to help prevent the further spread of the virus. Los Angeles Unified is in effect the biggest petri dish in California. More than 75,000 employees serving almost 700,000 students who live with another 2-3 million people. What better place to control the spread of the disease?”
LAUSD realizes that not all children can be on the school campus at the same time, yet the students who are not on campus will need childcare. He said LAUSD is perfectly qualified to provide the childcare, but that it will come at an enormous cost, due to the need to hire more staff and find additional facilities, in order to keep physical distance.
According to Beutner, this could cost $3 Million per day. And while that sounds like a huge amount of money, he makes the case that it “pales in comparison with the need to reopen what was the 5th-largest economy in the world just a few short months ago.”
What else did the Superintendent say?
The LAUSD Grab + Go Food Centers have supplied 40 million meals since the shutdown began in March, and he said, “the lines of people each day at our food centers are a sobering reminder of the impact the virus is having in the communities we serve.”
This year’s Summer of Learning has enrolled a record number of kids. Over 100,000 students “are continuing to learn using the tools, technologies and online connection their schools have provided.”