The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) announced on Sunday, May 3 that it is targeting a mid-August start for the 2020-2021 academic year, but it is unsure when campuses will reopen, LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner said in a press conference.
“We’ve made no decisions about the opening of school facilities by that date and will not until science and health authorities tell us it is safe and appropriate to do so,” Beutner said.
Beutner’s announcement comes a week after California Gov. Gavin Newsom said that schools might be able to begin the school year as early as late July.
But Beutner emphasized the district’s compliance with the recommendations from public health officials and the scientific community at large.
“Science will guide us. Experts will tell us what’s safe and appropriate come Aug. 18,” Beutner said, adding that before the school could reopen, there should be a “robust” testing process and contact tracing across the district, which is the second-largest school district in the country.
“Safety is about making sure we are not the place that becomes a petri dish for this virus,” he added.
All 600 of the district’s schools have been shut down since March 13 with teachers relying on distance learning. With the extension of shelter-in-place orders, the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year will be online only.
Beutner said that when schools closed, there were no confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus.
Online summer classes will begin in the middle of June, and although distance learning has its drawbacks, Beutner emphasized its necessity to keep students, teachers and the LA community safe.
“The transition to online learning is our moonshot,” he said. “It’s important and that difficult, and like astronauts on the Eagle, we’ll all benefit from the learning when all are safely back home, or in the case of our students, safely back in the classroom.”