A group of parents in Los Angeles sued the county’s school district this week, asserting that each day schools remain closed, students and families are “suffering irreparable harm.”
California Students United and four parents say in the April 7 suit that all schools in the county could have reopened based on updated statewide criteria but the district kept its schools closed, despite the district’s superintendent, Austin Beutner, confirming the district had completed a retrofit of schools and done everything else necessary for a safe reopening.
Both Beutner and the Los Angeles teacher’s union focused on getting teachers COVID-19 vaccines before reopening, despite vaccinations not being required by law or the district’s bargaining agreement with the union, the lawsuit says.
As of April 2, the district had still not reopened any schools, despite mounting evidence that students can safely be in schools without a significant increase in spread of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes COVID-19, according to the lawsuit. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last month said schools could safely reopen and later adjusted its recommendation of six feet of social distancing largely to three feet.
Plaintiffs each shared details about the negative impact that continued closures have had on their children. One said his younger son loved school and was popular among both his peers and teachers. That boy has shown a “lack of will” to keep up with his studies and complains that he hates remote learning.
Another child, a junior in high school, was a straight-A student. But nowadays, she does not want to get out of bed and would often nap between online classes. Her grades have slipped. And she has stopped eating and told her parents she was depressed.
Plaintiffs asked a judge to order the district to reopen schools for full-time, in-person instruction “to the greatest extent possible” within seven days.
The suit was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Los Angeles school officials declined to comment.
The district’s website says some elementary schools will begin reopening on April 12 and the rest will welcome back students on April 19.
Middle and high schools are slated to reopen the week of April 26.
Students do not have to return to school in-person for the remainder of the school year.
A different lawsuit (pdf) was filed last month against the district and the teacher’s union by four parents, who argued their children “have variously become suicidal, isolated, depressed, addicted, clinically obese, and had their future prosperity needlessly imperiled” due to the continued school closures.
The suit also asserted that the closures violate California’s Constitution and asked the court to order the union “to cease preventing LAUSD from safely returning to in-person instruction for the benefit of Plaintiffs’ children.”