The Los Angeles Unified School District and the San Diego Unified School District, the two largest districts in California, announced Friday that both will close this Monday in an effort to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Superintendent Austin Beutner of Los Angeles and Superintendent Cindy Marten of San Diego spoke by phone early Friday morning and later issued the following joint statement:

“California has now entered a critical new phase in the fight to stop the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic,” they said. “There is evidence the virus is already present in the communities we serve, and our efforts now must be aimed at preventing its spread. We believe closing the state’s two largest school districts will make an important contribution to this effort. For that reason, we plan to close, effective Monday, March 16.

“Later today, we will be providing students, parents and staff with more information on our plans to continue providing learning opportunities for students during the closure. We have also directed staff at both districts to prepare to continue providing nutrition and other supports through family resource facilities.”

The boards of the Los Angeles Unified and San Diego Unified School Districts have unanimously approved the action, according to the statement.

The two districts say that together, they serve more than 750,000.

The closure decisions came after Alex Caputo-Pearl, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, the union representing the district’s teachers, on Thursday called for “the rapid, accelerated, and humane closure of LAUSD schools.

“Other countries have shown that a proactive — not reactive — approach slows the spread of the virus, makes sure health care providers are not crushed with overwhelming demand and dramatically reduces fatalities,” Caputo-Pearl said.

There was no immediate response from the district to the union’s call to close the schools.

The union also released what is called “10 Common Good Community Demands,” including 15 additional paid sick days for all Los Angeles County workers, a weekly disaster stipend and creation of a food supply network.

“The state has a $20 billion reserve and this is exactly the time to tap into that reserve to support students and families,” Caputo-Pearl said. “There is an opportunity here to build a social safety net through our `Common Good Community Support’ demands. Let’s take the opportunity to build those now.”

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