Los Angeles Unified School District
austin beutner 1221

Continuing Covid surge will keep Los Angeles Unified from reopening classrooms in January

Dec. 21, 2020
Superintendent Austin Buetner says the "alarming" rate of positive Covid-19 tests makes it unsafe to bring students back to campus when the second semester begins Jan. 11.

Citing the ongoing surge of Covid-19 cases in the area, the Los Angeles Unified School District says its campuses will have to remain closed to students when the second semester commences on Jan. 11.

Superintendent Austin Beutner issued a statement Monday acknowledging that the number of Covid-19 cases in Southern California made it too risky to bring students back for in-person instruction.

He noted that the 7-day daily average of new Covid cases is about 14,000 in the Los Angeles area. That number will need to drop to about 700 or 800 and remain at that level for the better part of a month before schools can consider reopening.

"While we’re working toward a safe reopening as soon as possible, given these numbers and the state’s health guidelines, it will not be possible for us to reopen school campuses by the time next semester starts on January 11," Beutner says. "We’ll remain in online-only mode until community health conditions improve significantly."

The Los Angeles district, the nation's second-largest public school system, has about 650,000 students 1,400 schools and 75,000 employees spread across 700 square miles.

Beutner calls the level of Covid-19 in the Los Angeles area "staggering"—five times that of the level in San Francisco and 15 times the level the state of California has set for schools to consider reopening.  

"Unfortunately, Los Angeles has become the epicenter for the virus in our country at this time," the superintendent says.

Although classrooms will not be reopening in January, Beutner says the district continues to believe that students learn best in a classroom. L.A. Unified's goal is to bring students back to schools as soon as possible in the safest way possible.

District workers have deep-cleaned more than 80 million square feet in of space Los Angeles Unified, installed  air-filtration systems, reconfigured campuses to maintain safe distances, and stockpiled personal protective equipment to make campuses safer, Buetner says.

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