‘Where are you going to put everybody?’: LAUSD teachers concerned about schools possibly opening in July

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The sign outside Baldwin Hills Elementary School says all LAUSD schools are closed through May 1. This week, Governor Gavin Newsom indicated that students might return to classrooms in July. Photo by Amy Ta.

More than a month has passed since classes transitioned to virtual learning, and it’s unclear when schools will reopen for in-person classes. 

“We closed school facilities on March 13, so our schools didn’t become a petri dish and cause the virus to spread in the communities we serve,” LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner recently said during his weekly briefing. “That’s worked. We do not want to reverse that in a hasty return to schools.”

But this week, Governor Gavin Newsom indicated that students could possibly return to classrooms in July. But some educators are concerned about this.

Kristie Collette, a third grade teacher at Newcastle Elementary in Reseda, is unsure how schools could reopen so soon. 

"Logistically, where are you going to put everybody? Where are all these new teachers going to come from? There's [sic] a lot of teacher shortages in a lot of places. But even with the younger kids, it's nearly impossible to keep them away from each other."

Collette says in actuality, the idea of going back in July would have to be bargained by the teachers’ union. 

Hazel Kight Witham, a teacher at Venice High School, says that a crisis can stir great creativity and problem solving, which would be needed to open schools by July.

If schools do reopen, Withham says, "Perhaps this becomes the moment when we really have wonderful class sizes, and we do a really good job at making sure that we have a positive learning environment. And if this situation requires that we go to 15 to 1 class sizes, I mean what a blessing."

It’s currently unclear as to how LAUSD could reopen schools in that timeframe. 

Guests: Kristie Collette, third grade teacher at Newcastle Elementary School in Reseda

Hazel Kight Witham, teaches english at Venice High School

Credits

Guests:
Kristie Collette - Third grade teacher at Newcastle Elementary School in Reseda, Hazel Kight Witham - English teacher, Venice High School

Host:
Steve Chiotakis

Producers:
Christian Bordal, Jenna Kagel, Rebecca Mooney