LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The Los Angeles Unified School District declared a state of emergency Tuesday evening over growing coronavirus concerns.
While the board did not vote on whether or not to close the entire school system, the approved order grants the superintendent the power to do so if it becomes necessary — a decision that would pose unique challenges for one of the nation’s largest school districts.READ MORE: Strike Averted: IATSE And AMPTP Have 'Basic Contract' Agreement, Per Officials With The Theatrical Stage Employees Union
“We have a very large number of students who eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at school,” Jackie Goldberg, a school board member said. “If we close the school, how do they eat?”
Concerns over families who depend on school meals and families who lack internet service at home were both big topics of discussion as the board deliberated.
The district said it is already working on a plan for online learning with a possibility for television programming for students if the schools were to close — though Superintendent Austin Beutner said that with no confirmed cases of coronavirus linked to the schools, the district is far from making a decision on closures.READ MORE: Taylor's Blunder, Other Missed Chances Put LA In NLCS Hole
“This authorization is just to allow us to better prepare,” he said. “This is not to take action today.”
Along with Tuesday’s declaration, the district has asked schools to cancel any upcoming out-of-state trips and has told those who are sick to remain at home.
An increase in overtime for custodial staff was also approved so custodial staff could step up their sanitation efforts.
“That means extra time is being put into those high-touch surfaces — including water fountains and cafeteria tables, buses and even the coffee pot in the faculty lounge,” Beutner said.MORE NEWS: Karen Bass Officially Kicks Off Her Run For Mayor Of Los Angeles At Saturday Event
The district has also begun showing videos that demonstrate proper hand washing technique to both LAUSD students and staff.