LAUSD launching COVID-19 testing, contact tracing program

The district says the program will provide regular COVID-19 testing and contact tracing for school staff, students and their families.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The Los Angeles Unified School District has announced the launch of a COVID-19 testing and contact tracing program.

The program will provide regular COVID-19 testing and contact tracing for school staff, students and their families, according to the district.

LAUSD will start the program Monday in a "measured fashion with a focus on carefully fine-tuning systems and operational logistics as the new school year starts." Fall semester begins Tuesday.

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Most students will be starting the new school year online but a lot needs to be done on campuses to ensure students are safe when they eventually return to classrooms.

The goal is to get students and staff back in the classroom sooner for in-person instruction.

The initial testing will establish a baseline, and the first people to get tested will be staff members who are already back at schools, and their own children who are in L.A. Unified child care programs.

Over time, testing will expand to all staff and students.

"The goal in this early phase is to establish a baseline," the district said in a statement. "After that, there will be periodic testing of staff and students. The frequency and schedule for that testing will be set after the initial testing phase based on epidemiological modeling."

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LAUSD's superintendent says the health crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic is turning into an education crisis.

LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner said the program will cost about $300 per student over the school year, which would be at least $240 million for the second largest school district in the country.

Beutner says the program is a groundbreaking collaboration between scientists at UCLA, Stanford University, Johns Hopkins University, Health Net, Anthem Blue Cross, Microsoft and other companies.
The group will be part of a task force co-chaired by Beutner and former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

The superintendent says the plan will also study the impact and effects of reopening, so the data will be available to the general public.

"This program will also provide significant education benefits for students by getting them back to school sooner and safer and keeping them there," Beutner said. "We hope this effort also will provide learnings which can benefit other school systems and communities across the nation as we all combat this pandemic."

Beutner announced in July that the upcoming school year will not start with students taking in-person classes.

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