- Los Angeles Unified School District
Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Austin Beutner Statement On City of Los Angeles Lawsuit Threat (02-05-21)
CONTACT: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Shannon Haber, 213-393-1289 February 5, 2021
Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Austin Beutner Statement
On City of Los Angeles Lawsuit Threat
LOS ANGELES (February 5, 2021) – Grandstanding political stunts like this are precisely why schools in Los Angeles remain closed. Elected leaders from Sacramento to Los Angeles City Hall need to put deeds behind their words and take the steps necessary to actually put schools and the children they serve first.
Los Angeles Unified has been ready to reopen classrooms for months. We are already doing everything the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends to reopen schools. We retrofitted 80 million square feet of school buildings to make sure the air is properly filtered. We clean and sanitize every room in every school. We created a nation-leading school-based COVID-19 testing and contact tracing program. We developed the technology to provide easy access to testing and, eventually, vaccines. And we have served more than 100 million meals to hungry families. We did all of these things without any assistance or funding from the State of California, Los Angeles County or, notably, the City of Los Angeles.
We are ready to reopen and want nothing more than to welcome children back to classrooms safely, but we cannot break state law to do so. What we cannot control is the community spread of COVID-19 in the Los Angeles area, which has not for one single day since the beginning of the crisis met the state standards for school reopening. Schools cannot reopen because the communities we serve have had persistent infection rates higher than the state COVID standard which must be met for schools to reopen. That should be of grave concern to all of us because each of these new cases is a human being. And the continued high rates of the virus are having a disproportionate impact on the low-income families of color served by our schools.
San Francisco authorities worked together and brought the rate of infection under control and the area has for some time met the state standard for school reopening, but Los Angeles is a national example of how governmental dysfunction has allowed the virus to rampage out of control. It was not the decision of Los Angeles Unified to reopen card rooms or indoor malls before infection rates were low enough to unlock the schoolyard gates. It was not the decision of Los Angeles Unified to close 1/3 of the COVID testing capacity in the area during a surge of COVID cases. It was not the decision of Los Angeles Unified to change school reopening standards without any scientific explanation or engagement with the school community. And it was not the decision of Los Angeles Unified to delay providing vaccinations to school staff in Los Angeles.
It will take the whole of government cooperating and prioritizing schools to get children back in classrooms. Rather than filing a headline-grabbing lawsuit, the City of Los Angeles should stop scapegoating schools and work together with schools, the county and the state to communicate clear and consistent standards for a safe school environment, bring down community infection rates, provide vaccines to school staff and get schools open.