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Trump says LA schools are making a 'mistake' by delaying reopening due to coronavirus

Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Political News

LOS ANGELES -- President Donald Trump called the decision by Los Angeles schools to not reopen campuses next month a "mistake" during a CBS News interview on Tuesday.

Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner announced Monday that the nation's second-largest school system will continue with online learning until further notice because of the worsening coronavirus outbreak in Los Angeles.

A growing number of school districts, including San Diego and some in the San Francisco Bay Area, are following suit, saying conditions are simply not safe enough. The Long Beach (Calif.) Unified School District announced Tuesday that it will also delay reopening, saying it "will remain entirely online, at least through Oct. 5, due to the recent spike in coronavirus cases in Southern California."

Asked during the CBS interview to elaborate, Trump added: "I would tell parents and teachers that you should find yourself a new person, whoever's in charge of that decision."

The president has been pressing schools and universities to reopen despite growing concerns from health officials that it is not safe to do so.

Beutner said Monday the LAUSD cannot come close to protecting the health and safety of some half a million K-12 students and 75,000 employees.

"Let me be crystal clear," Beutner said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. "We all know the best place for students to learn is in a school setting." But, he said, "we're going in the wrong direction. And as much as we want to be back at schools and have students back at schools -- can't do it until it's safe and appropriate."

 

The superintendent pointedly called for county, state and federal officials to provide leadership and funding for regular coronavirus testing and contact tracing, and said school districts need clearer guidance on when and how to reopen. Beutner estimated it would cost $300 a year per student to test all students and staff members once a week.

"The dollars pale in comparison to the importance schools will play in reopening what was the fifth-largest economy in the world," he said.

The decision pitted two imperatives against each other: the need to reduce health risks versus the need to return students to classrooms -- where, experts say, they learn more effectively, while allowing their parents to resume a more routine work schedule, helping to boost a state economy in deep recession.

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