MARY ROSE CORKERY REPORTER
The Los Angeles school district plans to test around 700,000 students and 75,000 employees for COVID-19 within the next few months while classes begin online, the district superintendent said Monday.
The testing will occur while the Los Angeles Unified School District waits for schools reopen in-person classes, Superintendent Austin Beutner said, according to a video transcript of a presentation. The testing will cost approximately $300 per student, Beutner said.
“Extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary actions, and while this testing and contact tracing effort is unprecedented, it is necessary and appropriate,” Beutner said, according to the press release.
The testing and contact tracing program began Monday and will first be administered to current staff and their children, according to a Los Angeles Unified School District press release.
All students and staff will eventually be tested regularly “based on epidemiological modeling.” Testing is also available for any staff member or student’s “household members” who either “show symptoms” or test positive for the virus, according to the school district press release.
“This will provide a public health benefit to the school community, as well as the greater Los Angeles area. This program will also provide significant education benefits for students by getting them back to school sooner and safer and keeping them there,” Beutner said.
The Los Angeles and San Diego school districts announced in July the upcoming school year would be online, according to The New York Times. Combined, the Los Angeles and San Diego school districts have around 825,000 students. The Los Angeles’ school district is the U.S.’ second-largest school district, according to the Times.
Beutner and former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will be co-chairing the task force leading the program, according to the press release. Scientists from the University of California Los Angeles, Johns Hopkins University and Stanford University will be part of the task force along with Anthem Blue Cross, Health Net, Microsoft, testing experts and the Los Angeles Unified School District.
“We hope this effort also will provide learnings which can benefit other school systems and communities across the nation as we all combat this pandemic,” Beutner said in the press release.
— L.A. Unified (@LASchools) August 17, 2020
California has reported 628,508 coronavirus cases and 11,245 deaths as of Monday, according to The New York Times. California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly reported that 300,000 of California’s coronavirus testing records had been backlogged, according to CBS News report on Aug. 8.
Superintendent Austin Beutner did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.