LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner on closed schools and taking care of kids amid coronavirus

Hosted by

LAUSD school bus in Mid City, Los Angeles. Photo by Amy Ta.

Starting today, hundreds of thousands of Los Angeles Unified students are staying home as the district closes all of its schools for at least two weeks.

The district is providing remote online learning. It’s teaming up with PBS to offer educational programming on three public access television stations.

Starting Wednesday, LAUSD will open 60 Grab and Go Food Centers. They'll be staffed from 7 am to 10 am each day, and each student can receive two nutritious meals there.

But there are lots of challenges that come with this new, uncharted territory.

Many students and parents are unsure how to navigate at-home learning. There are concerns about the resources students will lose that they normally receive at school.

Superintendent Austin Beutner says, “We serve the needs of almost 700,000 students, many of whom live in poverty. The closure of any school has real consequence. The closure of all of our schools has even more consequence.”

He says that LAUSD had looked to health authorities for guidance on what’s safe and appropriate, and now closing school facilities is the right thing to do. “We had put a plan in place for students to continue to learn in a new setting. And that’s what we’re doing now: supporting our students, classroom educators. … That’s the new normal for a while. We’re going to have to make it better and better and better as we go along.”

Beutner says LAUSD serves a high-needs population, including students of hospital workers, public safety personnel, and first responders. He says the district provides more than 1 million meals a day.

“We’re trying to work towards a plan where we might be able to take care of children. We’re not there yet. We need the support of the state and county, to know that we can do it in a way that’s safe for the adults and children who are there. … At a minimum, we’ll provide nutrition. … We’ll be opening those centers on Wednesday,” he says.

For updates on LAUSD, please check their website.

Credits

Guests:
Austin Beutner - Superintendent of LAUSD - @austinbeutner, Kristie Collette - Third grade teacher at Newcastle Elementary School in Reseda

Host:
Steve Chiotakis

Producers:
Christian Bordal, Jenna Kagel, Rebecca Mooney