California’s two largest public school districts, Los Angeles and San Diego, announced Monday they will be resuming the school year online-only this fall as cases of the CCP virus continue to rise in the state.
“The skyrocketing infection rates of the past few weeks make it clear the pandemic is not under control,” Los Angeles and San Diego public schools said in a joint statement.
The two districts combined enroll some 706,000 students and have 88,000 employees on more than 1,500 campuses overall. Los Angeles is the second-largest school district in the United States.
Los Angeles and San Diego shifted to remote teaching in mid-March as the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus outbreak spread in California, days before Gov. Gavin Newsom issued his first statewide stay-at-home order and mandatory workplace closures.
The decision to close the schools for in-person teaching in August coincided with an announcement from Newsom that California would roll back reopening measures in a bid to stem the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP virus.
Citing continued COVID-19 spread “at alarming rates,” Newsom said on Monday that his state was closing indoor operations for restaurants, wineries, movie theaters, and other family entertainment, along with zoos, museums, and card rooms.
In the joint statement, the San Diego school district said online-only teaching will begin for the new academic year on Aug. 31—just over a week after Los Angeles, which said it will resume on Aug. 18.
Both districts will continue planning for a return to in-person learning during the 2020-21 academic year, as soon as public health conditions allow, the statement said.
They noted that while the news will come as a “significant disappointment” to many, the state’s current infection levels show that it is not safe to reopen for in-person teaching. Counties that have safely reopened their schools have done so with declining infection rates and on-demand testing available, the joint statement said.
California’s COVID-19 death toll exceeded 7,000 on Sunday, according to the state’s Department of Public Health, which noted 8,460 new infections on July 12, bringing the state total to 320,804 positive cases.
“The data suggests not everybody is practicing common sense,” Newsom said at a press conference.
One of the hardest-hit areas in the state is Los Angeles County, which has seen the proportion of tests that come back positive rise to 9 percent, according to health authorities.
It is not clear when the school districts will resume for in-person learning, however Los Angeles plans to provide an update in early August. Meanwhile, San Diego will provide a “public assessment” on Aug. 10 based on local measures of whether the CCP virus is sufficiently under control, as well as progress on testing and federal action on funding.
Tom Ozimek and Reuters contributed to this report.