Show an ad over header. AMP

Los Angeles schools chief details the decision to close schools amid the COVID pandemic

Los Angeles schools superintendent Austin Beutner says he knew the coronavirus had pushed the world to a tipping point in February 2020 when his city jumped from one confirmed coronavirus case to 14 cases in a matter of days.

Why it matters: In an interview Tuesday with Axios Re:Cap, Beutner recalls how the second-largest school district in the U.S. prepared to shut down while making sure its most vulnerable families had the resources of more affluent classmates.

Flashback: "We started tracking the first case of COVID in Los Angeles. The second case of COVID in Los Angeles. Two days later, there was the 14th case in Los Angeles," Beutner said in an exclusive interview with Axios.

  • "My discussions at that point in time with health authorities, state, local and other people I just knew in that world was we're at this tipping point, you know, two to 14 is a bad sign. If 14 goes to 28, we'll be in a pandemic, and this is the way epidemiology works."

What happened: Beutner knew that for poor families in his district, children's education and other needs could not be paused to figure out what to do.

  • "I felt if we created a gap between the relationship they have with their classmates and their current teacher and the current school staff, that that would put kids at risk and we might lose kids," he said.
  • "So we made a decision to train ourselves along the way. The vernacular that is talked about a lot now: It's flying the plane while changing the seats and the wiring in the midst of a thunderstorm running low on fuel. That's what we were doing."
  • Beutner said the school district worked closely with Apple to get the half-million laptops needed to close the digital divide among his students and get everyone online for classes. The district also rented refrigerated trucks and warehouses to serve meals to the community, he said.

Yes, but: The superintendent received some opposition to closing the schools from families that disagreed about the threat from the virus.

  • "We closed because of this unknown and, at that point in time, unknowable virus, which we thought presented an existential threat of sorts, but we didn't know the conviction."

By the numbers: Beutner estimated his decision to close schools affected between 3 and 4 million people, including students, families and employees.

  • Beutner said the school district has served approximately 110 million meals to those in need since the start of the pandemic.

More than a year into the coronavirus pandemic, Axios is looking back at the week of March 9, 2020 — the week high-profile leaders were forced to make consequential choices that upended our lives and society. Subscribe to Axios Re:Cap here.

Corporate America begins to see fallout after wading into politics

Corporate America is finding it can get messy when it steps into politics.

Why it matters: Urged on by shareholders, employees and its own company creeds, Big Business is taking increasing stands on controversial political issues during recent months — and now it's beginning to see the fallout.

Keep reading... Show less

Church shelters call out U.S. for expelling migrants when they have capacity

Despite the separation between church and state, the federal government depends upon religious shelters to help it cope with migration at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Why it matters: The network supports the U.S. in times of crisis, but now some shelter leaders are complaining about expelling families to Mexico when they have capacity — and feel a higher calling — to accommodate them.

Keep reading... Show less

Derek Chauvin's guilty verdict in the murder of George Floyd is the rare officer conviction

Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who was shown kneeling on George Floyd's neck last year in a video that shook the nation, was found guilty of murder and manslaughter on Tuesday.

Yes, but: Eight years after the launch of the Black Lives Matter movement, it's still rare for police officersto face legal consequences or jail time over the deaths of Black people.

Keep reading... Show less

Senate confirms Lisa Monaco as Justice Department's deputy attorney general

The Senate voted 98-2 on Tuesday to confirm Lisa Monaco as deputy attorney general for the Justice Department, making her the agency's second highest-ranking official.

Why it matters: Monaco is expected to play a key role in Attorney General Merrick Garland's pledge to crack down on violence from domestic extremist groups, including the department's sweeping investigation of the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Keep reading... Show less

Minneapolis reflects on Chauvin verdict as a step toward healing and calm

A growing crowd outside the Hennepin County Government Center broke out into cheers, hugs and tears of relief as word of the Derek Chauvin verdict spread just after 4pm CST.

Catch up quick: Eleven months after George Floyd died under the former Minneapolis police officer's knee, a jury of 12 neighbors returned a guilty verdict on all three counts.

Keep reading... Show less

"Painfully earned justice has finally arrived for George Floyd’s family": Nation reacts to Chauvin verdict

America is speaking out after the jury in Derek Chauvin's trial announced its guiltyverdict after about 10 hours of deliberation.

What they're saying...

Ben Crump, Floyd family lawyer: "GUILTY! Painfully earned justice has finally arrived for George Floyd’s family ... Justice for Black America is justice for all of America!"

Keep reading... Show less

Derek Chauvin found guilty of all 3 charges in George Floyd's death

A jury on Tuesday found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in George Floyd's death.

Why it matters: This rare conviction of a police officer may come to be seen as a defining moment in America's collective reckoning with issues of race and justice.

Keep reading... Show less

Super League in super trouble

The European Super League is on the brink before it even manages to launch.

The state of play: Two key English teams — Chelsea and Manchester City — are reportedly preparing to exit just two days after the league announced its formation, ESPN notes.

Keep reading... Show less



Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories