In an email sent to all Los Angeles Unified School District employees, Superintendent Austin Beutner announced that schools in the district would be closed for at least two weeks effective on Monday, March 16 while school officials continue to "evaluate the appropriate path forward."
In the email, Beutner wrote that the public health crisis created by the novel coronavirus pandemic is "not something any of us could reasonably have expected to happen" and that the district was in "uncharted waters" as they worked to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
"This is a difficult decision, but necessary, as we try to slow the spread of the virus," Beutner wrote. "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 consequence beyond the loss of instructional time. This is not an easy decision and not one we take lightly."
Beutner states that students will be given a plan to take home with them to their parents at the end of the school day today, and that additional support would be provided to assist students as they transition to "a different way of learning and teachers to a different way of teaching."
At least 40 Family Resource Centers will be opened on Wednesday, March 18, with trained staff available between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Children will be provided a warm meal and be allowed to engage with their friends and pursue their studies.
"I want to thank all on our staff who are working tirelessly to help our students and planning for them to remain connected to the school community," Beutner wrote. "We know the adults on a school campus are an important part of a student's life and will do our best to try and maintain that connection."
Beutner added that all employees would be paid during the school closures, even if they are not directly involved with providing services to students.
The announcement came following an emergency meeting by the school board Friday morning after the L.A. Teachers Union called for an aggressive response to the coronavirus to address concerns people had.
San Diego schools will also close, according to a joint announcement from Superintendent Austin Beutner of Los Angeles and Superintendent Cindy Marten of San Diego.
"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.
At least 32 people have been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus in the L.A. County area. Another 15 cases have been confirmed in several neighboring counties.
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