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Long Beach, Pasadena Schools Headed For ‘Online-Only’ Reopenings As Coronavirus Surges

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Long Beach Unified School District officials announced today that students will not return to campuses before Oct. 5 — the latest sign that a surge in coronavirus cases is jeopardizing plans to reopen schools across Southern California.

In a statement and video message, Superintendent Jill Baker said spiking rates of cases and hospitalizations prompted Long Beach Unified to shelve plans for a limited, part-time return to classrooms this fall.

Instead, Baker announced the district will start in “online-only” mode on Sept. 1. She promised a:

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"robust online instructional program… to include daily live lessons, synchronous instruction, grading, and attendance taking. Our online program for fall will be more intense and consistent than what students experienced following our rapid closure in the spring."

MORE THAN JUST LONG BEACH

With Long Beach Unified’s announcement, three of California’s four largest districts have now decided against reopening campuses in time for the new school year. Los Angeles and San Diego made it official yesterday — and Fresno Unified, the state’s third-largest district, is reportedly considering an online-only start too.

Smaller school districts may soon follow suit: later this week, Pasadena Unified Superintendent Brian McDonald will ask his district’s school board to approve a plan to reopen in "a 100% distance learning model."

"We cannot and will not take chances," McDonald wrote in a letter to parents today, "with the health and safety of our students and staff."

PUBLIC HEALTH ORDERS

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Yesterday, L.A. County health officials announced schools that do reopen will have to require students, staff and visitors to wear masks, practically at all times.

But it’s up to each of the county’s 80 school districts to decide whether to reopen — and "how to best configure learning opportunities during the pandemic, considering the levels of community transmission and what the science tells us about the risks," according to a statement.

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