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When and How Will SoCal Students Get Back to School?




Two security guards talk on the campus of the closed McKinley School, part of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) system, in Compton, California, just south of Los Angeles, on April 28, 2020.
Two security guards talk on the campus of the closed McKinley School, part of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) system, in Compton, California, just south of Los Angeles, on April 28, 2020.
ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

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With schools still closed amid the coronavirus pandemic, and remote learning continuing for the rest of the school year, the question of when the fall semester might begin (and what it will look like) is looming large for administrators, teachers, parents and students. 

L.A. Unified Superintendent Austin Beutner says no decisions have been made about whether the fall semester — still officially scheduled to start on August 18 — will involve students returning to classrooms or continuing to work remotely. 

What has been decided, as of this week, is that online summer school will be offered to every LAUSD student for the first time ever. It's an alternative to the idea that Governor Gavin Newsom floated last Tuesday, when he said that California schools might start the 2020-21 school year, in person, as early as July, with some physical distancing and safety measures in place.

While the idea of an early start to the school year took many school districts by surprise, Newsom said it was a concern about a "learning loss" that's happened with the switch to online teaching, with some students lacking access to devices and the internet, that led him to propose the idea.

What could reopening look like when it does eventually begin to happen? Ideas include staggered school schedules and alternatives to school activities that are essentially group gatherings — like assemblies, recess, and PE. But before any in-person learning resumes, even in a modified form, Beutner and Newsom say several requirements must be met.

Guests:

Debra Duardo, Los Angeles County Superintendent of Schools; she tweets @DebraDuardo

Karin Michels, epidemiologist; chair and professor of the Department of Epidemiology at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health

Paul von Hippel, associate professor of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, Austin; he tweets @PaulvonHippel