The superintendent for the Los Angeles Unified School District announced Monday that students will not return to the classroom when the fall semester begins next month because of the surge in coronavirus cases across Southern California, CBS Los Angeles reports. LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner said that the fall semester will begin on August 18 — but student learning will begin online only, with no students returning to in-person classes.
LAUSD employs approximately 75,000 people and serves almost 700,000 students. It's the second-largest school district in the country.
Along with LAUSD, the San Diego Unified School District will also be beginning its fall semester in a virtual format. The two districts released a joint statement confirming the move.
"Both districts will continue planning for a return to in-person learning during the 2020-21 academic year, as soon as public health conditions allow," the statement read.
Beutner did not provide an estimate regarding when in-person classes might resume.
"The right way to reopen schools is to make sure there's a robust system of testing and contact tracing to mitigate the risk for all in the school community," Beutner said in a video address Monday.
The announcement comes after United Teachers Los Angeles, the union which represents about 30,000 LAUSD teachers, announced Saturday that 83% of its members had voted against physically reopening schools to students.
Several nearby districts appear to be leaning toward offering students a choice. Santa Ana Unified in Orange County approved a plan under which students could decide whether to learn solely online or under a hybrid model in which they would be in the classroom a few days a week and meet online the rest of the time. Under the hybrid model, no more than 15 students would be in class at a time.
Las Virgenes Unified — which serves parts of Calabasas, Hidden Hills and Ventura County — announced a similar plan.
Schools statewide began operating remotely in mid-March, with students using programs such as Zoom and Google Classroom to connect with their teachers and complete their course work for the spring semester. LAUSD itself closed campuses on March 13.
New York City plans to reopen schools in September, but all students may not be able to go in every day, the mayor said. Florida, meanwhile, has ordered schools to reopen in August for all students five days a week.