LOS ANGELES - Schools within the Los Angeles Unified School District will remain closed through May 1 and the district is working to make sure all students will be able to continue learning amid school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Superintendent Austin Beutner announced Monday.
To "restore a sense of stability," Beutner revealed LAUSD has authorized an emergency investment of $100 million to help close the digital gap between students. Some of the money will be used to provide devices to students so they can continue learning on a digital landscape "so all students can get the education they deserve."
In addition, LAUSD announced they have reached an agreement with Verizon late Sunday night to provide complimentary internet access for students who do not already have it.
LAUSD said their three main priorities of helping students learn, supporting students and families most in need and taking care of all teachers and staff who make learning possible, remains unchanged.
For graduating high school seniors, the district will do its best to prepare seniors "for the next chapter" and is actively searching for a way to celebrate their accomplishments, Beutner said.
The superintendent also announced LA Students Most in Need where community members can donate and contribute to necessities such as meals, devices and books.
World Central Kitchen, founded by celebrity Chef Jose Andres, is involved in the district's charitable efforts.
Beutner posted the following statement on Twitter early Monday that reads in part:
"This past week marks the start of a new chapter for all who are part of our school community. Students are learning in different ways, teachers are teaching in different ways and families are struggling to support their children in their studies while balancing other responsibilities.
I wish I could tell you it will all be back to normal sometime soon but it does not look like that will be the case.
Schools will remain closed through May 1st and we will provide additional updates well before May 1st on what will come next."
While the school closures have been extended, LAUSD ensures all staff will continue to be paid.
In addition, LAUSD will provide work plans from March 30 to April 3 this week.
On March 13, it was announced the nation's second-largest school district would be closed for two weeks to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Then, it was believed schools could reopen by the end of the month.
That Friday, students were sent home with a variety of materials, both high-tech and low-tech, and in some cases, a combination of both.
The district will continue to partner with KPBS as an interactive learning tool.
Beutner said about half of LAUSD students are continuing to learn at a pace they were while in the classroom, but about a quarter have fallen behind due to a lack of learning opportunities, noting "standing in the way is a digital divide."
"We know more is needed," he said.
Beutner stated teachers will be provided the proper training to convert their curriculum to online lesson plans.
The online lesson plans will also apply to students with special needs and English learners.
With schools closed, the district initially planned to open school resource centers where students could continue learning and interacting with their peers. However, the district made alternative plans once President Donald Trump said gatherings should be limited to ten people.
Instead, LAUSD opened 60 "Grab and Go" food centers where students are provided two meals a day.
Beutner said the district will continue to listen to state and federal authorities in how they will proceed moving forward.
He also stated he is working with city, county, state and federal efforts to provide for those in need.