LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) —  Schools in Los Angeles and San Diego will both close Monday for the next two weeks in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus, the districts announced Friday.

Austin Beutner of Los Angeles Unified School District and Cindy Martin of San Diego Unified School District say they spoke by phone early Friday. In a joint statement, the two superintendents said California is now in a critical new phase in the fight to stop the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“There is evidence the virus is already present in the communities we serve, and our efforts now must be aimed at preventing its spread,” the statement said. “We believe closing the state’s two largest school districts will make an important contribution to this effort.”

The closure, which will go into effect Monday, will impact more than 750,000 students. The two districts are the largest in California. San Francisco Unified School District already announced they would close on Thursday.

Beutner said that students will be sent home Friday with plans to help them transition into remote learning, which will be supplemented by the district’s partnership with PBS SoCal, which will allow students to access content targeted to Pre-K through 12th grade students on PBS’ three public TV channels in Southern California and through the free PBS app. The district’s special education centers will also close, but students and families will continue to be able to access the regional centers they rely on.

The district’s Family Resource Centers, where children can get a warm meal, will also be open on March 18, and be staffed weekdays from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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In a news conference, school officials said the decision to close for two weeks was partly due to the lack of testing for coronavirus.

“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,” Beutner said in a statement. “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.”

LAUSD has set up three phone hotlines for anyone with questions.

For families: (213) 443-1300
For school leaders: (213) 241-2000
For employees: (213) 241-2700

Beutner said that, even with schools closed, employees will be paid over the next two weeks.

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The decision to shut down LAUSD’s nearly 1,000 schools follows the United Teachers Los Angeles’s call for the district to close, even without any confirmed cases of coronavirus in the district’s schools.