In a video address, Superintendent Austin Beutner announced that Los Angeles Unified School District will start the school year on August 18, 2020 in an online-only mode. Citing the rising COVID-19 infection rate in Los Angeles County, he said “there’s a public health imperative to keep schools from becoming a petri dish.”
At LAist, Kyle Stokes provides an excellent overview of the concerns of families and educators with regard to the reopening of schools. The risks of infection are not faced solely by students, but also staff, from teachers to bus drivers to administrators. As Stokes points out, one concern is that a student could play a role in spreading the virus, even if they are themselves asymptomatic.
Unfortunately, however, no thought has been given to ways in which students with disabilities might be served in an on-site setting despite these concerns. The absence of such thinking, and the absence of any “robust” programming and supports for students with disabilities has caused them, and will continue to cause them, substantial loss of educational opportunity. The LAUSD has not, in our opinion, done “well” for such students nor does it seem to plan on “doing well” for them. All of them have substantial and ongoing claims for compensatory relief. Our office remains open and willing to assist in all such cases and look forward to working with you as to attempt to secure educational programming for student with disabilities during this difficult time.