Public schools in Los Angeles, which serve over 700,000 students, will stay closed until May 1 in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Superintendent Austin Beutner on Monday, March 23 announced that the district-wide closures will be extended for another two months.
“I wish I could tell you that it would be back to normal sometime soon,” Beutner said in an address on Monday. “But that’s not the case. School closures will extend until May 1.”
The closure of the United States’ second-largest school district — which was first announced on Friday, March 13 — was previously supposed to last only until the end of the month.
Students were sent home with lesson plans to cover the original two-week shutdown, but many of the students do not have access to necessary devices or the internet to continue their studies.
The district made an “emergency investment of $100 million,” Beutner said, “to make sure every student regardless of their circumstances gets the education they deserve.”
The investment will provide devices and internet connection for all students, as well as technology training for students, teacher and families.
In addition to online learning, the LAUSD has partnered with PBS SoCal and KCET for free Pre-K to 12th-grade educational programming on local stations and the online platform PBS LearningMedia.
Instead of the initial family resource centers the district was slated to open, it set up 64 Grab & Go Food Centers, in partnership with the Red Cross, to provide meals to areas most in need. They are staffed on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and allow each student to take home two meals.
Almost a quarter of a million meals have been served as of last Friday, March 20, the district said.
The district also created a charitable fund to provide meals and supplies for students and their families. Tax-deductible contributions can be made at LAStudentsMostInNeed.org.
Also on Monday, Beutner and San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten — who represents the state’s second-largest school system — released a joint statement urging state legislators to provide emergency funding for the school districts to cover protective gear, cleaning of schools, device and internet access, and help for special education students and English learners.
“Knowing the incredible sacrifices our teachers and support staff have made already, it is time to acknowledge that much work lies ahead,” Beutner and Marten said. “Our schools and families have met this challenge so far with determination, but our students deserve much more, and we want to work with our legislative leaders to ensure each and every student can continue his or her academic journey.” (AJPress)