LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner gives update on district’s plans amid coronavirus pandemic

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L.A. schools Supt. Austin Beutner provides a coronavirus update on Tuesday, just before the Board of Education votes to give him emergency powers to respond to the outbreak.(Gina Ferazzi/Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times)

L.A. schools Supt. Austin Beutner provides a coronavirus update on Tuesday, just before the Board of Education votes to give him emergency powers to respond to the outbreak.(Gina Ferazzi/Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times)

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LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner updated the public Monday on the School District’s plans amid the coronavirus pandemic that has shuttered schools since last month.

Beutner talked about the challenges and successes of the district’s efforts to transition all students to online learning.

“Even in the best of times, launching a comprehensive online learning program in the nations second-largest school district would be a monumental task,” he said. “During extended school closures due to coronavirus, Los Angeles Unified will be trying to do this in a matter of weeks, because students most in need are counting on us.”

The school District’s ‘Grab and Go’ meal program, which provides lunches to students who would normally be in school, will have already handed out more than 5 million meals by the end of the day Monday, he said.

The meals can be picked up at one of 60 locations around Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Unified School District campuses initially closed to students on March 16 in hopes of slowing the spread of COVID-19.

Beutner announced on March 23 that the nation’s second-largest school district would remain closed until at least May 1.

“These are uncertain, even frightening times, particularly for children,” he said. “The old saying, ‘you don’t realize how important something is until it’s not there,’ has never been more true as we find the essential role schools play in our lives has been dramatically altered.”

On April 1, Governor Gavin Newsom said California schools are expected to remain closed for the rest of the academic year and teachers should concentrate on teaching from afar.

“The right thing to do for our children, the right thing to do for the parents, for households, for the community which they reside, is to make sure that we are preparing today to set our school system up where we are increasing class time, but increasing it at home,” Newsom said.

Newsom’s comments were not a mandate, but did give school districts the cover to do what many already felt was necessary, said Troy Flint, spokesman for the California School Boards Association.

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