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Beutner: Coronavirus Testing, Tracing Needed Before LAUSD Can Re-Open

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Los Angeles Unified School District campuses will not reopen until authorities set up a “robust system of testing and contact tracing," Superintendent Austin Beutner said today:

We closed school facilities on March 13th so our schools did not become a petri dish and cause the virus to spread in the communities we serve. That has worked. We do not want to reverse that in a hasty return to schools.

In his weekly video update, Beutner also kept up the pressure on federal, state and local government officials for more funding. In some cases, he said LAUSD is doing their job for them — and deserves to be reimbursed for it.
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Here are a few highlights of Beutner’s speech:

  • No timetable for reopening: “Reopening schools will be a gradual process,” the superintendent said, “with a schedule and a school day that may be different.” But it’s too early to start talking about resuming normal operations, he said; first, “health authorities have to solve some very real issues.”
  • Budget impact: Last week, Beutner said LAUSD could be stuck with nearly $200 million in uncovered bills for emergency coronavirus response — unless federal, state or local governments stepped in to reimburse certain costs. This week, Beutner noted that L.A. County, the city and the state have all received federal funds “to support coronavirus related efforts like the food program” that LAUSD is running — and Beutner argued LAUSD is entitled to an “appropriate portion of these funds.”
  • Distance learning: In elementary schools, “71% of students now have devices,” Beutner said. The vast majority of LAUSD teachers have completed mandatory training in distance learning — and about half of teachers have signed up for additional training.

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