Los Angeles superintendent says key to reopening schools is COVID-19 testing

It would probably cost about $300 to $400 per student.

July 24, 2020, 2:02 PM

The superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District said that without sufficient funding for COVID-19 testing and contact tracing his more than 600,000 students at over 1,000 schools are facing "an education crisis."

Regularly testing students would cost $300 to $400 per pupil for a district that already spends about $17,000 annually on each student, and Beutner has been asking both state and federal lawmakers for assistance.

"The Dodgers are being tested to go back to work. Shouldn't teachers and students be tested to go back to school?" Superintendent Austin Beutner told ABC Los Angeles station KABC on Thursday.

PHOTO: Austin Beutner speaks during a press conference at Western Avenue Elementary School in Los Angeles on Wednesday, June 5, 2019.
Austin Beutner speaks during a press conference at Western Avenue Elementary School in Los Angeles on Wednesday, June 5, 2019.
Medianews Group/torrance Daily B/MediaNews Group via Getty Images

Beutner said in a video message on July 13 school would begin as scheduled in August but that students would not be attending classes in person.

"This health crisis is turning into an education crisis," Beutner said. "Our students haven't been at schools for five months by the time August rolls around. We've seen studies about a short summer break and how students regress."

Balancing students' educational needs and their health and safety, as well as that of their families, has proved challenging, he added. Students from lower-income families may be especially at risk.

"We have this society of haves and have-nots, and it's mostly have-nots in public education," Beutner continued. "Is it because children aren't represented in the Legislature? I'm not sure. But we have to get to a different place in this conversation and recognize the importance of education."

A solid education is "the path out of poverty" for many students, he added. "This is about something that can’t be measured in dollars and cents -- it’s about creating opportunity for children."

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