LOS ANGELES (CNS) — Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner said there’s still no timetable on when school facilities may reopen due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the district may need to create a balance of online and in-person classes for the next academic year that starts Aug. 18.
“As we look ahead to the start of a new school year, the challenge is to build on the foundation that’s been put in place over the past few months and apply the learnings to provide the best possible education for students,” Beutner said during his weekly coronavirus briefing.
In order to provide students with adequate education, the new school year will have to include a regular class schedule, attendance will have to be taken, daily live instruction must be given and other requirements must be met, Beutner said.
During the next academic year, each school principal will host weekly updates on their plans to reopen and provide education, and community administrators will hold regular town hall meetings to discuss issues related to the new school year, Beutner said.
“If these sound like an ambitious set of expectations, they are and they’re necessary,” Beutner said. “COVID-19 continues to be a real threat to all the communities we serve, and it doesn’t look like that’ll change anytime soon. We have to do the best we can to adapt to challenges it presents.”
A team is working to simplify the technology teachers used at the end of last school year for online instruction, the superintendent said.
“We knew we were heading into uncharted waters,” Beutner said.
“Training was needed for students and their families on how to use these tools, as well as the many different communication and education technologies that are part of an online education. Teachers were asked to adapt lesson plans based on classroom instruction virtually overnight to somehow complete the last few months of school online.”
During the start of the pandemic, support staff had to be trained and integrated into the online classes, and methods of providing meals to families and mental health support had to be “rebuilt” so they could continue even as school facilities were closed, Beutner said.
PBS educational programming that has been provided by the district has been viewed by more than 200,000 people, Beutner said, and a “record” number of students, about 125,000, are participating in summer school programs online.