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The LA public school year starts on August 18, Entirely Online

Some school districts are getting skittish with in-person learning and delaying it as coronavirus cases surge across the U.S. Some districts are pushing off school start dates by up to several weeks, while others like LAUSD plan to start the school year with online-learning only.

“The skyrocketing infection rates of the past few weeks make it clear the pandemic is not under control,” said a joint statement issued by LAUSD and the San Diego Unified School District, which also will start the school year online. 

Both districts said they would continue planning for a return to in-person learning in the new academic year as public-health conditions allow. They plan to launch online learning on their originally scheduled opening dates: on Aug. 18 for Los Angeles and Aug. 31 for San Diego.

President Trump has demanded school districts open to in-person learning or risk losing federal funding. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has also pushed for reopening.

Trumpian Bluff

By what authority can Trump cut funding for schools that open online?

His threat is another obvious Trumpian bluff that is headed nowhere.

Trump's economic advisor Larry Kudlow tried the carrot approach.

“I think the president would be willing to consider additional funding for state and local governments if the schools do reopen, so that’s perhaps an incentive,” Mr. Kudlow told Fox News on Monday.

Opening Safely

Social Distancing in Schools
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School Districts get Recommendations from Health Experts

One look at the picture is all it should take to the the foolishness of the ideas. Schools would need three to five times the number of teachers to provide adequate spacing. 

The Case for Reopening Schools

The Wall Street Journal editorial board makes The Case for Reopening Schools.

The evidence—scientific, health and economic—argues overwhelmingly for schools to open in the fall. Start with the relative immunity of young children to the disease, which should reassure parents.

Only two children under age 18 have died in Chicago—fewer than were killed in shootings in a recent weekend. In New York City, 0.03% of children under age 18 have been hospitalized for Covid and 7.5 in one million have died. The death rate for those over 75 is more than 2,200-times higher than for those under 18.

Parents and teachers understandably worry that children might spread the virus. But a recent retrospective study of schools in Northern France, from February before lockdowns, found that “despite three introductions of the virus into three primary schools, there appears to have been no further transmission of the virus to other pupils or teaching and non-teaching staff of the schools.”

Teens appear to be more infectious. Yet schools that have reopened in most countries, including Germany, Singapore, Norway, Denmark and Finland, haven’t experienced outbreaks. Some schools in Israel had outbreaks last month after class sizes were increased, but most infections in both teachers and students were mild.

In any case, these risks can be managed as the Trump Administration has suggested in its guidance to schools: Space desks six feet apart, stagger class periods, make kids wear face coverings when possible, keep them in the same cohort, and have them eat, play and learn outdoors as much as possible. Teachers can also wear face shields, and schools can use plastic barriers in higher-grade level classrooms to separate them from kids.

Two Unanswered Questions

  1. Where are schools supposed to get the space or the teachers to move desks six feet apart?
  2. What are parents who would normally be working supposed to do? 

An office at home with kids running around is not like an office without the kids. Online schools will be a major disruption for many parents.