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L.A. School Bus Drivers Circle City Hall Honking Horns, Demand Funding to Reopen Schools Safely

Newsweek logo Newsweek 8/14/2020 Katherine Fung
a box filled with lots of traffic: School buses sit parked in a lot at First Student Charter Bus Rental on July 14, 2020 in San Francisco, California. Bus drivers for the L.A. school district paraded around City Hall on Thursday demanding for more funding to reopen schools safely. © Justin Sullivan/Getty School buses sit parked in a lot at First Student Charter Bus Rental on July 14, 2020 in San Francisco, California. Bus drivers for the L.A. school district paraded around City Hall on Thursday demanding for more funding to reopen schools safely.

Noisy school buses circled Los Angeles City Hall on Thursday demanding state funding to help schools reopen safely during the coronavirus pandemic.

Drivers from the nation's second-largest public school district, Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), were joined by other passing vehicles in the downtown area.

"I miss work. I love my job, I love the students, the people I work with but I understand why we can't be at work right now because it's just not safe right now," district driver John Lewis told Yahoo. "Until they get conditions safe, I prefer us to be at home. I prefer everyone to stay home and stay safe, you know? I don't want nobody else to lose a life because of this pandemic."

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Earlier in July, the LAUSD announced, alongside the San Diego Unified School District, that school in Los Angeles would resume on August 18 but online only.

"Both districts will continue planning for a return to in-person learning during the 2020-21 academic year, as soon as public health conditions allow," the statement read.

"One fact is clear: those countries that have managed to safely reopen schools have done so with declining infection rates and on-demand testing available.

California has neither," the joint statement said. "The skyrocketing infection rates of the past few weeks make it clear the pandemic is not under control."

California became the first state to surpass 600,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Superintendent Austin Beutner came out in solidarity with the bus drivers and other school staff on Thursday.

"The investment we have to make in cleaning a school, the investment we have to make in keeping people safe by spreading desks apart, providing extra equipment, providing devices, Internet access, all that costs more money," Beutner explained to Yahoo. "Unless we have a health crisis turn into an education crisis, we need to make sure the funding is there for schools."

On Tuesday, the LAUSD Board of Education unanimously approved a set of distance-learning guidelines. The district has made efforts to make technology more accessible to families who may be disconnected, providing students with a Chromebook or tablet.

Telecommunication companies like AT&T and Verizon have offered free internet access to students.

The LAUSD is aiming to provide more one-on-one support for students. Teachers will also be given the choice to work from their classrooms, although it is not mandatory.

Newsweek reached out to the LASUD for comment, but did not hear back before publication.

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