By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The Los Angeles Unified School District is calling on state officials to provide it with more funding before it can even consider safely reopening schools.

LAUSD and the unions which represent its teachers and employees released a joint statement Monday asking for the state to beef up a $2 billion school reopening proposal which Gov. Gavin Newsom announced in late December. The district said that the state needs to do significantly more to provide help for schools in “low-income communities of color.”

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Under Newsom’s plan, students in younger grades across the state would return to class as early as February, while older grades would see a phased in return in the spring. The $2 billion would go towards providing school districts statewide with more testing, ventilation and personal protective equipment once they reopen.

However, to take part in the plan, regions would need to meet a benchmark of less than 28 coronavirus cases per 100,000 population. As of Monday, L.A. County remains a coronavirus hotbed, with a record high number of hospitalizations and deaths. Its case rate is 107.9 per 100,000, nowhere near what is required to safely reopen. In a briefing Monday, LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner implied that Newsom’s plan seems unrealistic.

“The plan fails to provide the help our schools will need to reopen classrooms,” Beutner said. “The governor’s plan does not address the disproportionate impact the virus is having on low-income communities of color. It leaves the definition of a safe school environment, and the standard for reopening classrooms, up to the individual discretion of 1,037 school districts across the state, creating a patchwork of safety standards in the face of a statewide health crisis.”

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LAUSD campuses have been closed to in-person instruction since the pandemic took hold last March. While dozens of private schools and a handful of public school districts in more affluent areas have received waivers from the county to reopen in some form, LAUSD has been unable to do so. Last week, L.A. County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer called on schools countywide to close through at least the end of January because of the crush of cases.

LAUSD and its labor partners say the state needs to provide funding for all schools who likely won’t be able to open by Feb. 1 or March 1. It also called on the state to use public health funds, and not education funds, for coronavirus testing and vaccinations.

Furthermore, it asks for a “clear state standard for COVID-related health issues in schools.”

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LAUSD is the second largest school district in the nation, with over 600,000 students and 75,000 staff.