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School Board Votes to Keep Schools Closed as Coronavirus Cases Rise

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By Lookout Staff

July 17, 2020 -- The School Board on Thursday unanimously voted to keep schools closed for the start of the academic year, as the County and State grapple with a worsening coronavirus emergency.

The decision came one day before Governor Gavin Newsom announced that all public and private schools in California counties with rising COVID-19 infections would be required to implement distance learning.

Los Angeles County is among those experiencing a dramatic rise in new cases and hospitalizations ("Santa Monica Sees Record Number of Weekly Coronavirus Cases, As County Re-Shutters Businesses," July 13, 2020).

“We are committed to providing our students with a rigorous and engaging distance learning program for the fall,” said Superintendent Dr. Ben Drati said. “We heard loud and clear that distance learning in the spring had some bright spots, but also presented challenges."

Drati said the District has been working with the teachers' representatives and school leaders and consulting with parent groups "to develop the framework for a more robust distance learning program."

"We did not expect it to begin with this model immediately, but we will be prepared to do so," he said.

The framework for distance learning includes attendance expectations, grading, making sure textbooks and devices are deployed to students and meal service continues, Drati said.

Principals and teachers will contact students and parents during the first two weeks of school to make sure they understand what is expected in the the remote classes.

The district is also preparing for the resumption of on-campus learning that could include the use of outdoor spaces and other indoor campus spaces for in-person learning, District officials said.

“We will be nimble and creative as we prepare to return to our campuses and be ready to do so in a health-protective and safe manner,” Drati said.

“Until that time, we are working through the summer to create a high-quality distance learning program for all students, including those who are the most vulnerable.”

Students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), 504 plans for those with disabilities or are English learners, homeless, or in foster care, will receive information from their school sites regarding plans and expectations, officials said.

Thursday's vote followed "a robust discussion, review of data, parent survey results and public comments," District officials said.

The School Board plans to continue the discussion on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. via Zoom. No additional public comments will be taken during the session.

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