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LAUSD, San Diego District to Close Monday

LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner talks at podium
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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Los Angeles Unified School District and the San Diego Unified School District, the two largest districts in California, announced today that both will close this Monday in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Superintendent Austin Beutner of Los Angeles and Superintendent Cindy Marten of San Diego spoke by phone early this morning and later issued the following joint statement:

"California has now entered a critical new phase in the fight to stop the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic," they said. "There is evidence the virus is already present in the communities we serve, and our efforts now must be aimed at preventing its spread. We believe closing the state's two largest school districts will make an important contribution to this effort. For that reason, we plan to close, effective Monday, March 16."

"Later today, we will be providing students, parents and staff with more information on our plans to continue providing learning opportunities for students during the closure. We have also directed staff at both districts to prepare to continue providing nutrition and other supports through family resource facilities."

The LAUSD Board of Education held an emergency meeting Friday morning and voted for the action unanimously.

During the two week closure, "we (will) evaluate the path appropriate path forward," Beutner said.

Plans are in place for students to continue to learn during the closure, and 40 family resource centers will be open to provide daycare for families that need it, Beutner said.

Students will have a plan to take home with them Friday and additional support will be given to students as they transition to a different way of learning and teachers adjust to a different way of teaching, he said.

"This is a difficult decision, but necessary, as we try to slow the spread of the virus," Beutner said. "Los Angeles Unified serves a high-needs population, and our schools provide a social safety net for our children. The closing of any school has real consequences beyond the loss of instructional time. This is not an easy decision and not one we take lightly."

Special education centers in the district will close, but students and families will continue to have access to the services the center provide, Beutner said.

Family Resources Centers will open beginning Wednesday and be staffed from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

"Children will have a warm meal, engage with their peers and pursue their different studies," Beutner said. "And they'll be safe."

A family resource guide was being put together and would be provided to parents before Monday's closures, he said.

"These next two weeks will be difficult and we are not certain what lies ahead after that," Beutner said. "You have my unwavering commitment to do all we can do to help you and your children."

The closure decisions came after Alex Caputo-Pearl, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, the union representing LAUSD teachers, on Thursday called for "the rapid, accelerated, and humane closure of LAUSD schools."

"Other countries have shown that a proactive -- not reactive -- approach slows the spread of the virus, makes sure health care providers are not crushed with overwhelming demand and dramatically reduces fatalities," Caputo-Pearl said.

The union also released what is called "10 Common Good Community Demands," including 15 additional paid sick days for all Los Angeles County workers, a weekly disaster stipend and creation of a food supply network.

"The state has a $20 billion reserve and this is exactly the time to tap into that reserve to support students and families," Caputo-Pearl said.

"There is an opportunity here to build a social safety net through our 'Common Good Community Support' demands. Let's take the opportunity to build those now." 

Top Image: Mayor Eric Garcetti Talks About Loss of Measure EE | Photo by Scott Varley/MediaNews Group/Torrance Daily Breeze/Getty Images

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