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Superintendent Austin Beutner and Citywide Faith Leaders Hold Town Hall to Prepare for Reopening of Schools (03-21-21)

CONTACT:                                                                FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Shannon Haber, 213-393-1289                              March 21, 2021

Superintendent Austin Beutner and Citywide Faith Leaders
Hold Town Hall to Prepare for Reopening of Schools

 

  • Event to help families make informed decisions and recognize schools are being reopened in the safest way possible

  • Los Angeles Unified sets national standard with all 3 pillars for the safest possible reopening – the highest COVID safety standards at schools, lower levels of the virus in the community and vaccinations for school staff 
  • Preschools and elementary schools to reopen by mid-April, along with services for students with learning differences and disabilities; secondary schools by the end of April 

LOS ANGELES – March 21, 2021 – Superintendent Austin Beutner today joined the leaders of eight churches and faith-based organizations in hosting a town hall meeting to provide families with information about the reopening of Los Angeles Unified schools.

The discussion focused on Los Angeles Unified’s nation-leading COVID-19 testing program for students and staff and their families; the highest standards of health and safety protocols at schools to prevent the spread of the virus at schools; and schedules for both in-person and online-only instruction once schools reopen in April.

“We are grateful to the faith leaders for helping us engage families as we recognize the decision whether a child will return to school at this time is not a simple one,” Superintendent Beutner said. “The faith leaders and I share a common goal to make sure we’re doing all we can to provide children with the best possible education.”

The town hall was moderated by Pastor Edgar Boyd and Citywide Faith Liaison David Price of First African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church; Dr. Oscar Owens, Director of Christian Education, and John Wilson, Director of Education and Enrichment, of West Angeles Church of God in Christ; Youth Pastor Brandon Towns of City of Refuge Church; Rabbi Sarah Hronsky of Temple Beth Hillel; and Pastor Mary Minor of Brookins-Kirkland Community AME Church. 

The event was also supported by the Faith Community Coalition, Second Baptist Church and Ward AME Church.

“Our children are the most precious resource we have in the community,” Pastor Boyd said. “Soon they will be headed back to the classroom, after a whole year away from their teachers and friends. We want them to return under the safest conditions possible, and to reengage in the most valuable undertaking ever – their LEARNING.” 

“It’s time to safely re-open schools for the well-being of our children and parents, and the security our collective future,” Mr. Price said. “This town hall is a space for families to get the knowledge they need to be empowered and prepared for this transition and the fight to close the education gap.” 

“Our families and our children receive the benefits of the amazing educational system of our Los Angeles Unified School District,” Dr. Owens said. “We are all vital participants and constituents of this great collaboration, for the education of our young ones of various ethnicities, particularly of our African American church communities. We need to be at the table of dialogue and deliberation, as we work together creating a new future, through and beyond this pandemic. Together, we all can accomplish wonderful things, which will be great blessings to us all. Let’s partner together and do it!” 

“I wanted to be a part of this town hall meeting because I want our children to be back in school safely,” Mr. Wilson said. “We must remember them as we come out of this pandemic. In addition, I wanted to, in a public way, encourage families to get vaccinated when it is their turn so that society can more quickly return to normalcy.” 

“The person who seeks to uphold their dream of community will destroy community, but the person who loves those around them will create community,” Youth Pastor Towns said. 

“In the Jewish text of the Talmud we are cautioned, ‘Not to keep children from schools,’” Rabbi Hronsky said. “While learning has been ongoing throughout the pandemic, bringing our children safely within the walls of their schools will enhance the ability to nurture further their minds and souls. The faith communities look forward to partnering with Los Angeles Unified, its staff and families in returning safely to campus. It will most certainly be a joyous time when the voices of children engaged in debating, sharing and deep discussion, fill the classrooms and laughter rings out in the hallways!” 

“Our children are most precious resource," Pastor Minor said. "The Faith Community is charged to train them in a safe environment. We will safeguard their minds, bodies and souls. Therefore, we are committed to partnering with Los Angeles Unified and the families of the students who attend these schools to ensure a safe reopening and return to the classroom.” 

Copies of the family guide Los Angeles Unified has provided to families are available in English and Spanish online and at every school.

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