SOUTH LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — One day before the actual start of instruction at Los Angeles Unified School District, Superintendent Austin Beutner visited Manchester Avenue Elementary in South Los Angeles to see how one teacher was welcoming her students to her classroom.
Gladys Alvarez, a fifth grade teacher, was the only one of 30 who chose to teach virtually from her classroom.
“I wanted them to see a little bit of what the classroom would look like,” she said. “The classroom setting makes me even feel like there’s some normalcy.”
And though Alvarez said there were a few technical glitches, including while trying to upload an assignment for her students, she would rather be in her classroom than at home.
“I know that this is not the welcome you wanted because you wanted to be here,” Beutner said during his surprise visit to the campus where he also acknowledged issues with the district’s parent portal.
“It happens with technology,” he said. “That’s part of the reason we’ve built into this week mostly an orientation, you know, make the technology work.”
And while Alvarez preferred to teach from her actual classroom, most LAUSD teachers have decided to set up micro-classrooms in their homes.
Second grade teacher, Stephanie Larson, said she didn’t feel safe going back to campus so she brought the classroom to her bedroom — complete with a clock and whiteboard.
“I felt like I needed a place where I felt like I was at school,” she said. “It helps me be a little more motivated.”
Part of the district’s agreement with United Teachers Los Angeles, the teachers union, was the flexibility for educators to work on campus or at home — whichever they felt was best for them.
Also on Wednesday, Beutner took part in a Zoom call with the California Association of School Administrators in Sacramento to talk about the district’s new billion dollar testing and tracing initiative.
“This is an enormous undertaking,” he said. “We went to the ends of the earth. We found a testing company which can provide us with the volume of tests and overnight results.”
Though there was no set date on when testing would begin, Beutner said childcare would be offered starting next week for essential district workers.