LA, San Diego school systems to start year with online-only classes

Los Angeles and San Diego school districts said they will start the school year next month offering only virtual classes as coronavirus case numbers climb across California.

Instruction will resume as scheduled on Aug. 18 in Los Angeles and on Aug. 31 in San Diego but will begin with an exclusively online presence, the San Diego Unified and Los Angeles Unified school districts announced in a joint statement Monday.

Both districts said they will return for in-person instruction "as soon as public health conditions allow."

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“This announcement represents a significant disappointment for the many thousands of teachers, administrators and support staff, who were looking forward to welcoming students back in August,” the districts said in their joint statement. “It is obviously an even greater disappointment to the many parents who are anxious for their students to resume their education. Most of all, this decision will impact our students in ways that researchers will take years to understand.”

The districts said countries that have managed to “safely reopen schools” did so amid declining infection rates and on-demand testing available. California, they said, doesn’t meet either criteria.

“The skyrocketing infection rates of the past few weeks make it clear the pandemic is not under control,” the districts said, while calling for the federal government to provide schools with the resources they need to reopen in a “responsible manner.”

The Trump administration has threatened to withhold federal funding from schools that do not reopen for in-person instruction this fall. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVosElizabeth (Betsy) Dee DeVosStudents at school system Pence called 'forefront' of reopening now in quarantine The Hill's Coronavirus Report: GoDaddy CEO Aman Bhutani says DC policymakers need to do more to support ventures and 'solo-preneurs'; Federal unemployment benefits expire as coronavirus deal-making deadlocks Democrats look to go on offense in debate over reopening schools MORE on Sunday renewed her pushed for schools to reopen. 

"The rule should be kids go back to school this fall,” DeVos said on CNN’s “State of the Union,” adding that cases in which there are “little flare ups” should be dealt with on a case by case basis.

She also said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines on school reopenings are “meant to be flexible and meant to be applied as appropriate for the situation.”

California has been hit with a recent increase in coronavirus cases. The seven-day average of new cases per day was 8,664, as of Sunday. The state has reported a total of 320,804 cases and 7,017 fatalities.

Updated at 2:50 p.m.