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'We Cannot Break State Law To Do So': LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner Responds To Threatened Lawsuit Aimed At Reopening Schools

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner responded Friday to a threatened lawsuit brought on by Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino who wants the city to reopen schools.

Buscaino will ask full council next week to vote on the idea, and if approved, he will ask the city attorney to file a lawsuit modeled after one announced this week by San Francisco officials against the San Francisco Unified School District.

Beutner responded to the threat in a statement saying in part, "We are ready to reopen and want nothing more than to welcome children back to classrooms safely, but we cannot break state law to do so. What we cannot control is the community spread of COVID-19 in the Los Angeles area, which has not for one single day since the beginning of the crisis met the state standards for school reopening."

He continued, "Schools cannot reopen because the communities we serve have had persistent infection rates higher than the state COVID standard which must be met for schools to reopen. That should be of grave concern to all of us because each of these new cases is a human being. And the continued high rates of the virus are having a disproportionate impact on the low-income families of color served by our schools."

In a tweet posted Thursday, Buscaino said he "felt obligated to take a stand on opening our schools."

The teacher's union, United Teachers Los Angeles, has already said they won't return to campuses until all teachers are vaccinated.

"Going back to school, getting possibly exposed either on the way to school or by somebody that I work with who could possibly be a carrier and not know it, and I bring it home to my elderly mom," said teacher Sylvia Ruiz.

The CDC said schools can reopen safely, even if teachers aren't vaccinated, citing data showing social-distancing and mask-wearing significantly reduces the spread of the virus.

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