California’s two largest school districts — those of Los Angeles and San Diego — will hold online-only classes when school resumes this fall, The New York Times reported. That decision stands in contrast to the Trump administration’s push to have schools reopen for in-person instruction.
In a joint statement released Monday, the two districts, which have more than 825,000 students enrolled between them, said that the time is not right to bring children and teenagers back into close contact with one another — and with adults — in an indoor environment for most of the week while the coronavirus crisis is still raging.
Specifically, the districts said that research into the deadly pandemic is incomplete, and recommendations from the government have been contradictory.
Further, it was noted that while other countries have reopened their schools and not seen drastic spikes in coronavirus cases, there’s a difference between the general picture in those countries versus how things are in California.
“One fact is clear. Those countries that have managed to safely reopen schools have done so with declining infection rates and on-demand testing available. California has neither. The skyrocketing infection rates of the past few weeks make it clear the pandemic is not under control,” the statement reads in part.
Further, Austin Beutner, the school superintendent in Los Angeles, said that putting kids back into school would effectively turn them into breeding grounds for the virus.
“There’s a public health imperative to keep schools from becoming a petri dish,” he said.
Beutner also said that once local infection rates in his district are down “sufficiently” and that widespread testing and contact-tracing protocols and in place, he’ll revisit the decision to go online.
Similarly, in San Diego, where plans were in place to reopen schools with children attending in-person until last week, superintendent Cindy Marten cited teachers’ concerns, as well as the cost of thoroughly sanitizing the schools, and opted to go to online-only instruction. Much like Beutner, she explained that the decision will be revisited once infection rates have come down.
The decisions by the two largest school districts follow similar decisions made by other smaller ones in the Golden State. Already, Santa Clara, Oakland and San Bernardino, among others, have announced that they will stick with online instruction until further notice.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration continues to insist that children need to be back in school, in person. President Donald Trump has even threatened to withhold federal funds from schools that don’t re-open for in-person education in the fall.