Amid spiking coronavirus cases, Los Angeles Unified School District campuses will remain closed when classes resume next month, Superintendent Austin Beutner said Monday, defying President Donald Trump's demand that students return to in-person instruction.
Beutner said the "health and safety of all in the school community is not something we can compromise."
The decision comes days after the union representing the district's teachers announced results of a poll showing that 83% of instructors opposed returning to in-person classes.
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Despite the announcement, the LA County Public Health Department later during a news conference released a roadmap to what schools may look like when they do reopen.
Some of the guidelines include:
- Students wearing masks, except when eating or having nap time.
- Students wash hands frequently.
- Recess and other physical activities were to be limited.
Dr. Barbara Ferrer said that the guidelines were not an invitation to reopen for in-person classes, but rather a helpful guide, and schools would reopen based on guidance from the state.
The LAUSD on Monday issued a joint statement with the San Diego Unified School District, which also announced it will start the school year with online-only courses. In the statement, the districts acknowledged that schools have successfully reopened in some parts of the world, but said the conditions are different locally.
"One fact is clear -- those countries that have managed to safely reopen schools have done so with declining infection rates and on-demand testing available. California has neither,'' according to the statement. "The skyrocketing infection rates of the past few weeks make it clear the pandemic is not under control.''
The districts said planning will continue for an eventual return to in- person classes, but no timeline was provided. In the meantime, teachers will be given "expanded training in online education,'' and students will receive training "to become better online learners.''
Trump has been adamant that school campuses should reopen in the fall, even hinting that the federal government might withhold funding from jurisdictions that fail to return to in-person instruction.