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Board of Education Supports Launch of Groundbreaking COVID-19 Testing and Tracing Program At Schools (08-17-20)

CONTACT:                                                                FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Shannon Haber, 213-393-1289                                  August 17, 2020


Board of Education Supports Launch of Groundbreaking
COVID-19 Testing and Tracing Program At Schools

LOS ANGELES – August 17, 2020 –
Board of Education members voiced support today for the launch of a program that will provide regular COVID-19 testing and contact tracing to school staff, students and their families at Los Angeles Unified Schools. As part of this plan, research will commence to study the impact and effects of reopening and this data will be available to the general public.

The testing and contact tracing program and its corresponding research are a groundbreaking collaboration between Los Angeles Unified School District and leading scientists from the University California Los Angeles (UCLA), Stanford University and the Johns Hopkins University, Microsoft, testing experts, and healthcare companies Anthem Blue Cross and Health Net. Together, they will be part of a task force co-chaired by Beutner and former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

“Extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary actions, and while this testing and contact tracing effort is unprecedented, it is necessary and appropriate,” Superintendent Austin Beutner said. “This will provide a public health benefit to the school community, as well as the greater Los Angeles area. This program will also provide significant education benefits for students by getting them back to school sooner and safer and keeping them there. We hope this effort also will provide learnings which can benefit other school systems and communities across the nation as we all combat this pandemic.”

While the decision about the return of students to schools is some time away, this testing and contact tracing program allows a system to be built and tested and also provides a base of knowledge to help prepare for an eventual return to school campuses.

“During these unprecedented times, Los Angeles Unified will continue to put the safety of our students and our employees first,” Board President Dr. Richard Vladovic said. “This program will provide the necessary testing for school staff, students and their families to prepare us to return to school safely and with more information. Los Angeles still has an alarming rate of COVID-19 cases and we are doing everything we can in order to protect all of our Los Angeles Unified family. I am thankful for the amazing partners that we are collaborating with that have stepped up to support our children and communities.” 

“The establishment and rollout of this robust testing and tracing program underscores Los Angeles Unfied’s commitment to prioritizing the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff,” Board Member Dr. George J. McKenna III said. “The data and learnings from this program will be critical in allowing Lls Angeles Unified to assess and determine any possible next steps in transitioning to a different learning environment.”

“I’m grateful to all leaders modeling learning and collaboration for our students and families,” Board Member Mónica García said. “Our efforts to ‘test & trace’ will be an essential component of returning to campus when that times comes.”

“As much as we have worked to improve distance learning since the school district transitioned overnight in March, we know there is no replacement for in-person school and we’re doing everything we can to get kids back safely,” Board Member Nick Melvoin said. “That is not possible without a comprehensive system of testing and contact tracing. As we’ve done with food for the community and technology, LA Unified is stepping up to fill voids and put this system in place. “

“It’s important that we get our kids back in school, and this testing program is a strong first step,” Board Member Jackie Goldberg said.

"COVID-19 has forced our school district to face new and unanticipated challenges,” Board Member Kelly Gonez said. “Our testing and tracing program will be a critical part of our work to ensure the safety of our students and staff. It will allow us to respond quickly to any infections and slow the spread. District-led COVID testing is an unprecedented step, but these are unprecedented times."