LOS ANGELES (KTLA) – The Los Angeles Unified School District will begin its next academic year on Aug. 18, LAUSD Supt. Austin Beutner announced Monday.
It was not immediately clear, however, whether classes will resume on campus or online instruction will continue at the start of the 2020-2021 school year amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“We’ve made no decisions about the opening of school facilities by that date and will not until the science and health authorities tell us it is safe and appropriate to do so,” Beutner said during a news conference.
In addition to being in regular contact with state and local health officials, the district is also working with a team of UCLA experts who specialize in virology, epidemiology and testing.
“That’s critical because it will be the science, and only the science, which can provide a foundation for the safe return of our school community,” the superintendent said.
The nation’s second-largest school district has been conducting distance learning online since mid-March, a move aimed to mitigate the threat of COVID-19 to students, teachers, staff and others.
Virtual learning will continue through the summer. But for the first time, all LAUSD students will have the opportunity to participate in summer school, according to Beutner.
Two types of courses will be available to every student, while a “very focused, intensive” set of classes will be offered to a smaller number of schoolchildren who face the greatest challenges in distance learning, he said.
Classes at all grade levels will primarily emphasize the basics, such as literacy and math. But there will also be broader enrichment opportunities in other areas, such as for middle school students to learn to play the guitar or ukulele, thanks to a partnership with the Fender Guitar Company.
As distance learning goes on, the district will still provide meals to students and families who need them at dozens of “grab and go” distribution centers.
To date, more than 15 million meals have been served through the program.
Beutner also provided an update on graduation events for the class of 2020. Despite efforts to come up with alternative ways to hold commencements, LAUSD schools will be holding them virtually — at least for now.
The district had explored having drive-in, driveby, drive-around and drive-through ceremonies, or renting out venues like Dodger Stadium or the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, and having people sit far apart from each other.
However, Los Angeles County health officials have said that none of those things are possible in the immediate future, according to Beutner.
But the superintendent didn’t rule out having separate in-person ceremonies later in the summer, or even during the following school year, once such events will be safe and appropriate to hold again.
“If circumstances change and school communities are able to gather and celebrate, we will move as quickly as we can to help that happen,” he said.
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