UPDATE March 23: In the middle of a two-week closure of Los Angeles public schools, Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner Monday morning extended the shutdown though at least May 1 but stopped short of saying that schools won’t reopen this academic year as California Governor Gavin Newsom had suggested.
“I wish I could tell you it will all be back to normal sometime soon but it does not look like that will be the case,” Beutner said in a call to parents this morning. “Schools will remain closed through May 1st and we will provide additional updates well before May 1st on what will come next.”
Beutner is set to provide a more detailed update in a televised address at 11 AM this morning. The schools within Los Angeles Unified were originally closed starting March 16 through March 27. With the extension, the suspension of in-person learning has gone up to six weeks (schools are off the week of April 13 for spring break.)
“This past week marks the start of a new chapter for all who are part of our school community,” Beutner said about the first week of LAUSD teachers practicing distance education. “Students are learning in different ways, teachers are teaching in different ways and families are struggling to support their children in their studies while balancing other responsibilities.”
Later Monday morning, Beutner unveiled a $100 million investment to improve online learning and an agreement with Verizon to provide all students with online access.
PREVIOUS May 13: Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest school district in the country, is closing all schools effective Monday, March 16. The shutdown is for two weeks as district officials “evaluate the appropriate path forward”. The measure impacts more than 700,000 students. Teaching is expected to continue remotely.
The closure of Los Angeles’ public schools comes days after most private schools in the city shut doors over the coronavirus pandemic.
‘These next two weeks will be difficult, and we are not certain what lies ahead after that,” LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner admitted in his message to parents Friday morning, stressing that the school closure is the only reasonable option to help slow the spread of the virus.
Preparation for the school break already had been underway, with teachers providing instructions to students over the last two days about distance learning and collecting information about each student’s access to computer and the Internet.
The schools in the largest district in the country, New York, remain open as of now.
Here is Beutner’s full letter:
The public health crisis created by the coronavirus is not something any of us could reasonably have expected to happen, and we’re in uncharted waters as we work to prevent the spread of the illness. We have been following the guidance of public health experts on how we can keep all who are part of our school community — students, staff, family members and visitors — safe in the midst of a growing health crisis. We are now at a point where the balance has shifted and the appropriate path is to close schools. We are taking this step to keep our school communities safe. Effective Monday, March 16, we will close all Los Angeles Unified public schools for two weeks while we evaluate the appropriate path forward. While our school facilities will be closed, plans are in place for students to continue to learn during this time, and we will open 40 family resource centers to provide care for children if families need it.
This is a difficult decision, but necessary, as we try to slow the spread of the virus. Los Angeles Unified serves a high-needs population, and our schools provide a social safety net for our children. The closing of any school has real consequences beyond the loss of instructional time. This is not an easy decision and not one we take lightly.
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.
While our special education centers will also close, students and families will continue to have access to services from the regional centers they currently rely on.
The 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.
We are developing a family resource guide that we will provide to you before Monday, to help answer your questions.
I want to thank all on our staff who are working tirelessly to help our students and planning for them to remain connected to the school community. We know the adults on a school campus are an important part of a student’s life and will do our best to try and maintain that connection. All employees should rest assured knowing they will still be paid during this time, even if they are not directly involved in providing services to students.
And to our families, we thank you for your patience and trust as we work together to maintain some sense of normalcy in these difficult times. These next two weeks will be difficult and we are not certain what lies ahead after that. You have my unwavering commitment to do all we can do to help you and your children.
We will continue to do our best to keep you informed. Facts and circumstances may change quickly so we encourage you to check our website lausd.net regularly, my Twitter @AustinLASchools or call the following phone hotline. for families: (213) 443-1300
Thank you for your support.