LAUSD superintendent believes COVID-19 testing, contact tracing are keys to reopening schools

"This health crisis is turning into an education crisis," LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner says.

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Friday, July 24, 2020
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LAUSD's superintendent says the health crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic is turning into an education crisis.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner believes testing and contact tracing are keys to reopening schools for the districts 600,000 students.

"The Dodgers kick off tonight, that's fantastic. The Dodgers are being tested to go back to work. Shouldn't teachers and students be tested to go back to school?" Beutner said in an interview Thursday.

"This health crisis is turning into an education crisis," Beutner added. "Our students haven't been at schools for five months by the time August rolls around. We've seen studies about a short summer break and how students regress."

Estimates say it will cost $300 to $400 dollars per student for the school year to test regularly and engage in contact tracing. Beutner has been on a campaign to get funding from the state or federal government, suggesting Congress prioritize education in the next stimulus. Beutner argues we don't have a functioning economy without a functioning school system and a well-educated workforce.

LAUSD superintendent says school year won't start with students at facilities amid COVID-19 pandemic

"One of the frustrations that I have is because we have this society of haves and have-nots, and it's mostly have-nots in public education, we don't have a voice," Beutner said. "Is it because children aren't represented in the legislature? I'm not sure. But, we have to get to a different place in this conversation and recognize the importance of education."

Dr. Bridgid Conn, a clinical psychologist with Children's Hospital Los Angeles, says everyone should be concerned about the impact of distance learning on the development of our kids and the growing achievement gap.

"Key pieces of education aren't accessible to some students and that those things predict gaps in achievements for students who have more resources versus students who might have more barriers or challenges to accessing school," said Conn.