L.A. Unified Schools To Reopen With Online Option In Fall

The Los Angeles Unified School District will reopen next fall with on-campus, in-person teaching at schools for students five days a week, but will still offer an online option for some students.

Superintendent Austin Beutner made the announcement Monday as parents in the Los Angeles area have grown increasingly frustrated over the school district’s delay in making a decision. 

As reported by The Associated Press, schools for elementary-aged children “will have full days of instruction with their teacher and classmates while middle and high school students will change classrooms for each period, said Beutner, who leads the nation’s second-largest school district.”

Beutner added, however, that an option for students to remain online has to be available for the coming school year for those who cannot come to school for in-person learning and for those who choose not to do so. After-school programs will also be an option for students from the time school ends until 6p.m.

“Some students and some staff members may need to stay at home until all at schools are vaccinated due to health reasons because they live with an immune-compromised family member,” Beutner said, noting that he expects most of the students and staff to be at school each day.

Until more students receive COVID-19 vaccinations, said Beutner, staff and students will wear face masks. 

The reopening of schools in the district has been a contentious issue in recent weeks. As reported by The Los Angeles Times, a group of parents demanded Sunday that district authorities pledge a regular, full-time school schedule for the fall. “Separately, the teachers union last week called for maintaining safety measures, hiring more union members and raising pay. Meanwhile, a coalition of community groups recently called for increased funding for schools that they identified as most in need,” the outlet reported. 

Around 70 people rallied at LAUSD headquarters, and then continued another 2.5 miles west to the teachers’ union headquarters Sunday, according to the Times. “In interviews, they blamed the teachers union for not prioritizing the on-campus education of their children and the school district for not standing up to union demands,” reports the news agency.

“I support unions; I support teachers,” said Joel Delman of West Adams, who has middle- and high-school-aged boys who have exhibited signs of depression. “But what has happened this year has been a disaster and my eyes were opened up to the fact that that disaster is due to the collusion between [United Teachers Los Angeles] and our LAUSD board, which is supposed to represent parents but doesn’t listen to parents at all.”

Across the country, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that public schools will resume full, in-person instruction this fall without an option to remain online for students. 

“[In] New York City public schools, 1 million kids will be back in their classroom in September, all in person, no remote,” de Blasio said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

At a press conference later, as the New York Post reported, de Blasio said “it’s time for everyone to come back.” But, he added, students and teachers will still need to wear face masks while in school.

De Blasio said that no medical accommodations related to COVID-19 would be available for teachers to continue remote learning from their homes. The outlet reported that close to “a third of city public-school educators are currently working remotely because of coronavirus-related concerns.”

“We will resume the rules that existed before the pandemic,” the mayor said. “So there always were rules for providing accommodation for very particular and severe circumstances that existed before we ever heard a COVID. We’re going to resume the pre-COVID rules.”

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