The Long Beach Unified School District will continue with online classes through Jan. 28 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the district's superintendent announced Thursday.
In a video message, Superintendent Jill Baker said, "One of the hardest things about navigating through this pandemic is that we cannot see its end. The never-ending feeling is hard on all of us as we try to make decisions in the best interest of our students, while protecting everyone's health and safety."
She noted that the health data for Long Beach had "stabilized," but said it "still presents significant challenges to returning students to in- person learning, thus our decision to extend distance learning based on consultation with health officials."
The district is not authorized to consider opening schools for in- person learning because Los Angeles County is not yet off the state's watch list, the superintendent said.
The district's schools were closed March 16, with students beginning online classes April 20 after a monthlong hiatus. District officials subsequently announced in July that classes would remain entirely online -- at least through Oct. 5.
"We will continue to plan for potential phasing in of some student support services and some limited in-class instruction prior to the end of the first semester," the superintendent said. "As with all of our plans during this pandemic, these plans will require constant monitoring and the flexibility to shift direction based on what transpires in our community."
She noted that there is a "higher likelihood of contributing to the spread of a communicable disease" when large groups of adults and students are at one location.
"In addition, because without a vaccine, COVID will likely continue to be spread in our community, we believe that not perpetuating a cycle of opening and closing classrooms and schools will best contribute to stabilizing the learning experience for our students, and will allow parents to plan for the coming weeks and months," Baker said.
The superintendent said the online attendance numbers are approaching the numbers of students the district might see during a normal school year.
The only decision that has felt easy over the past six months was to serve breakfast, lunch and supper at the district's schools to ensure that students have access to meals even as the school buildings are closed for instruction, Baker said.