COVID pandemic: When will LAUSD campuses reopen? 'We've got to see where science takes us,' superintendent says

"It will cost more when we go back to school, not less, because we need to make sure everybody is safe," Austin Beutner said.

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Friday, June 5, 2020
COVID pandemic: When will LAUSD campuses reopen?
Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner joined ABC7 for a discussion of when campuses might reopen, as well as the state's recently proposed budget cuts for schools.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Amid the coronavirus epidemic, many Los Angeles parents and teachers are concerned about what the future looks like for schools -- especially after major budget cuts were recently proposed by the state.

The Los Angeles Unified School District is ending this academic year with remote learning. Summer classes will also be held online. But what will happen in the fall?

In an interview with ABC7 on Wednesday, LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner discussed these and other topics affecting the district's students and staff.

Gov. Newsom has proposed massive budget cuts. Your district joined with other districts this week, saying that you need more money to safely reopen schools. What is your plan?

We're still working. We're looking to science to tell us how we can make our way back to campus. But the cuts the state are proposing could cause irreparable harm to students. All our funding comes from the state. We provide that funding to schools to hire teachers. If we're not teaching young children to read, their life is going to be changed forever. So we need to make sure people understand what's at stake, which is the future of children. It will cost more when we go back to school, not less, because we need to make sure everybody is safe. We need to buy the personal protective equipment, cleaning schools, we're going to need to continue to provide technology. We're going to have to make sure there's mental health in schools. So going back is not just as simple as back to the way we were. It's going to be more costly, more complex, and at the same time the state is proposing more cuts in schools. Those two things can't coexist.

Right now, parents are just racking their brains because the fall is only three months away. So you say it depends on the science and the numbers. If things stay the way they are right now, they're wondering: Is thing going to be online automatically in the fall. Is that maybe what you're leaning towards right now? Or, if you try to reopen, is it staggered classes? Is there any indication in what you're considering?

Those are all good questions. It's early. We know school will start on August 18. That's when the school year starts. We're committed to that date. We're working alongside a team of scientists from UCLA, health experts at the county and the state level, and we've got to see where science takes us. Remember, it's only a few short months ago when we closed school facilities to avoid anyone in our school community coming in contact with the virus. Since then we've learned the virus is more contagious. Since then we've learned that people without symptoms can carry the virus. And since then 40,000 people have contracted the virus. So we've got to make sure we do this in a safe and appropriate manner. And we've got a little bit of time to figure it out. We're working really hard along the scientists.

For more of the superintendent's interview, watch the video above.