LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Thousands of students from the Los Angeles Unified School District returned to class Monday after winter break, and district officials issued an update on attendance rates, student safety and funding.
LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho kicked off the second semester by teaching a flight, space and robotics class at Washington Irving Middle School Math Music Engineering Magnet.
During his remarks, Carvalho spoke out about LAUSD's efforts to boost attendance rates, saying in the fall, attendance was back up to pre-pandemic levels.
"This year, we have knocked on 23,000 doors through our iAttend 2.0 effort," he said. "We've made calls, we've nudged parents, we've tried to understand the root causes of chronic absenteeism that's keeping a lot of our kids from being in school. We need kids in school to benefit from our educational programs. We also need kids in school because in this state, average daily attendance drives education funding."
There are also questions about how education funding will be impacted by the state's $68 billion budget shortfall. Gov. Gavin Newsom will announce his proposed budget Wednesday, and Republicans are urging him to declare a fiscal emergency.
"We will not be in a position of putting anyone out of their jobs," said Carvalho. "We believe we have the right strategy and the resources to be able to overcome what is expected to be a rather difficult year across the state."
With COVID-19 intensifying across California, some parents are concerned about their kids heading back to school. However, officials said they see nothing right now that would prevent students from coming to school for face-to-face instruction.
"It's important to remember that the COVID-19 of 2024 is much different that the COVID-19 of 2020," said Dr. Smita Malhotra, the chief medical director for LAUSD. "We have a much greater understanding of the virus. We have a vaccine, we have therapeutics available, and thankfully, we are in a place where COVID-19 is now endemic, so it's on the same realm as other viruses, such as RSV and flu."
Carvalho also noted how vehicle accidents have been devastating to the LASUD community with so many children walking to and from school.
He wants to ensure their safety by implementing new technologies and procedures.