Earlier this morning, on April 13, Superintendent Austin Beutner announced that schools will remain closed for the rest of the semester.
Over the course of the month that schools have been closed, the number in Covid-19 cases has drastically grown and the United States has become the country with the highest death toll with 23,555 deaths. Without an update on testing, treatments and vaccines, it is not safe for the Los Angeles Unified School District to reopen schools.
“The facts and circumstances will continue to change but we will not reopen school facilities until state and local health authorities tell us how it is safe and appropriate to do so,” Beutner said in a video posted on the Los Angeles Unified School District website.
Schools closed on March 16 to promote social distancing and keep the coronavirus from spreading. Originally, students were sent home with packets with two-weeks’ worth of work since it was anticipated that schools would be closed for two weeks. But the date to return to schools was extended, with the most date to return to school being May 6. But nearly two weeks ago, both Governor Gavin Newsom and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond recommended that schools remain closed for the rest of the school year.
As of right now, seniors will prepare for virtual graduation. Francis Suavillo, a student representative on the Los Angeles Unified School board has been leading a group of students, at the request of Beutner, to come up with recommendations of how to appropriately celebrate the class of 2020.
“I am obviously bummed that we can’t have that authentic high school experience of walking across the stage and celebrating with friends and family,” senior Ashleigh Rawson said. “I also would rather have people stay safe so it’s sort of a double-edged sword situation.”
For the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year, grades will continue to be provided and classes will continue to operate remotely. Steps will be implemented to work with students who are a few credits short of graduating. Students won’t receive a grade lower than what they had as of March 13, but they can improve their grades. They also won’t be penalized for not having access to a computer or wifi necessary to complete the courses. With a contribution from Amazon, in the coming week, headphones will be sent out to every high school student in an attempt to eliminate distractions in their at-home environment.
“Grades are an important way for teachers to set expectations and provide feedback to students, and for students to measure their own progress,” Beutner said. “We are trying to find a balance between helping students continue to learn and the sometimes harsh reality the crisis is bringing to lives of the students and families we serve.”
Summer school classes will be held remotely. Preparing to offer a four-week course for students of all grades, summer schools will focus their attention on literacy, fluency in math and critical thinking.
Earlier last week, Beutner received a message from an LAUSD student who was having suicidal thoughts. She was taken to a hospital by an LAUSD team and is currently receiving care. Anyone who might be feeling overwhelmed with the whole transition can seek help by contacting the LAUSD mental health crisis hotline (213) 241-3840.
Recognizing the struggles families at home might be facing, LAUSD and the Red Cross have provided over 7 million meals to those in need and will proceed to do so through their “Grab and Go” centers. This upcoming week, the leaders of many school communities will start the first of regular town hall meetings through video with families to share updates, listen to questions and attempt to provide answers.
“The goal is to make sure we have great practice in every virtual classroom and engage students and families,” Beutner said.