LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The Los Angeles Unified School District has not yet announced plans for the upcoming school year, but on Monday, Superintendent Austin Beutner said the district needs the state’s help to safely return to campus.
In his weekly address, Beutner said the rise in cases in Los Angeles County is a troubling new consideration.
“Los Angeles Unified is in effect the biggest petri dish in California. More than 75,000 employees, serving almost 700,000 students, who live with another two to three million people,” he said.
Beutner said that means the district is also the perfect place to help control the spread of the disease with testing and contact tracing.
“In all the other countries, Denmark, Germany, Israel, and others where students are back in school facilities, they put in place extensive testing and contact tracing capabilities,” Beutner said.
According to Beutner, about 59% of families who returned a district-sponsored survey want their kids to return to the classroom, 20% did not and 21% are uncertain.
Vanessa Acuna falls into the uncertain category. She is a single working mother of a daughter with special needs.
“I just can’t imagine her wearing a mask, for even more than 15 minutes,” she said.
Acuna acknowledges the education gap for kids in her Lincoln Heights community if remote learning continues.
“We are definitely underserved communities to begin with, and now you throw a pandemic on top of that and it’s pretty scary,” she said.
Childcare is another worry for working parents. Beutner estimates it will cost an estimated $3 million a day to provide childcare for just 25% of the district’s population.
Oliver Latsch has three LAUSD elementary students. He and his wife work from home, so his top concern is safety.
“Right now, the numbers, especially here in our county, are skyrocketing in Los Angeles,” Latsch said.
“So who knows where we will be in August in terms of numbers, in terms of spread. Also where we will be in terms of knowing what role kids really play in the spread of the disease,” he said.
As for teachers and staff, the district survey showed 44% voted to return and 36% voted to continue remote learning.