LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The Los Angeles Unified School District will start the 2020-21 school year on Aug. 18, Superintendent Austin Beutner announced Monday.
However, what remains unclear is whether students at the second largest school district in the nation will still be remote learning due to the coronavirus pandemic, or whether campuses will open and they will be able to return to classrooms.
No decision has been made on when students can return, Beutner said. That will likely depend on directives from health officials.
“The 2020-21 school year starts on August 18th,” said Beutner said. “We’ve made no decisions about the opening of school facilities by that date and will not until the science and health authorities tell us it is safe and appropriate to do so.”
He seemed to indicate that widespread coronavirus testing will need to be in place before schools can reopen.
“There continues to be a good deal of speculation about when and how schools will reopen,” Beutner said. “The timing remains uncertain because the science is still uncertain. At a minimum, a comprehensive system of testing and contact tracing will need to be in place and the implications of the testing widely understood before schools can reopen.
Schools statewide have been operating remotely since mid-March, with students using programs such as Zoom and Google Classroom to connect with their teachers and complete their course work.
LAUSD announced earlier this month that it will complete both the remainder of this current school year, as well as the summer term, remotely.
Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom indicated that the new school year could start as early as July in order to make up for the lost classroom time.
“We are considering the prospect of an even earlier school year into the fall, as early as late July, early August,” Newsom said. “We have made no decisions definitely in that space. But I just want folks to know the concern around learning loss.”
Beutner said Monday that more than 15 million meals have been served to children and adults through the district’s Grab-and-Go program since LAUSD closed campuses. The program was designed to replace the breakfast and lunch students would normally receive during the school day.
Beutner also noted that the district is working with each school to try and determine how to put on virtual graduation ceremonies.
“Since gatherings are not possible now, we’ll be helping each school community put on their best virtual celebration now and all students will be able to participate in an in-person celebration when health authorities tell us it is safe and appropriate to do so — whether the end of the summer or later into the school year,” Beutner said.