Los Angeles Unified School District Supt. Austin Beutner on Monday criticized California’s reopening plans and said more needs to be done for schools to welcome back students safely.
He said the spread of the virus needs to decrease to “an appropriate level,” the state needs to provide clear and consistent standards for what constitutes as a safe school, health practices and protocols need to be put in place to mitigate risk, and all teachers must be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The superintendent also criticized the state’s vaccine distribution plan.
“We don’t gain much by having an existential debate comparing a 66-year-old retiree living in a single-family home who can minimize outside contact with a 59-year-old reading teacher working in a classroom with young children from families hit hard by the virus,” Beutner said.
He also questioned the science behind Gov. Gavin Newsom’s decision to cancel the regional stay-at-home order last week.
“It’s hard to be confident we’re somehow safer today than we were back in December when health authorities told us similar virus levels put us in dire straits,” he said.
State officials had said they used a half-dozen formulas to project that all regions of the state will top 15% capacity in their hospital intensive care units in four weeks before they relaxed restrictions, which allowed outdoor dining again and the reopening of personal care and other businesses.
Beutner described state and local officials’ response as being confusing, saying “inconsistent and seemingly conflicting standards won’t help.”
“It’s been 10 very long months and the Los Angeles area has yet to meet the state COVID standards for schools to reopen,” Beutner said. “If schools are truly a priority, why are malls and cardrooms being allowed to reopen when the Los Angeles area is nowhere close to meeting the state standards for schools to reopen?”
The effort to reopen California schools has been foundering, the Associated Press reports.
Unions want all teachers vaccinated before school starts, but Newsom told them that’s unrealistic given the shortage of vaccines.
In a video meeting of the Association of California School Administrators, Newsom said “If we wait for the perfect, we might as well just pack it up.”