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Monday, December 7, 2020

Dangerous COVID-19 surge leads to hard shutdown of L.A. public schools

Dangerous COVID-19 surge leads to hard shutdown of L.A. public schools
Dangerous COVID-19 surge leads to hard shutdown of L.A. public schools

Los Angeles campuses will shut down completely beginning Thursday for all in-person tutoring and special services, as prospects for fully reopening the nation's second-largest school district recede further into 2021 amid a dangerous coronavirus surge, Supt. Austin Beutner announced Monday.

The move immediately affects some 4,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade and outdoor conditioning for athletes. Beutner's emergency order comes on the first day of a sweeping stay-at-home order across much of California and as Los Angeles County's coronavirus rates reach unprecedented numbers.

"My commitment has been throughout to protect the health and safety of all in the school community," Beutner said in an interview with The Times. "We have an imperative to get kids back to school as soon as possible the safest way possible. But all that comes through the front door, and the front door is what is COVID in the overall Los Angeles community. Right now it's at extraordinary and quite dangerous levels."

The superintendent's remarks follow those from teachers union president Cecily Myart-Cruz, who said Friday on social media that it has become a question of "if" rather than "when" campuses would reopen for the spring semester.

Beutner is not alone in pulling back from campus-based services, but there's been a range of responses across California.

The school board in San Bernardino City Unified, which serves about 47,000 students, voted Nov. 17 to keep campuses closed in that district, the state's eighth-largest, for the remainder of the school year.

In northwest L.A. County, Las Virgenes Unified, with about 11,000 students, has expanded in-person instruction — bringing back third-graders to campus on Monday. About three-quarters of students in transitional kindergarten through second grade had already returned under a county-approved waiver that is available to any school.