The Los Angeles Unified School District said on Monday that none of its 730,000 students will receive an “F” grade on their spring report card amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Superintendent Austin Beutner made the announcement in a virtual press briefing from his home where he discussed the difficulties of the school year as the “stress and anxiety continue to mount” from the virus.
He said the impact COVID-19 has had on students in his district was made “very real” to him after he received a message last week from a girl “having suicidal thoughts because of the pressure she was feeling about school and all the chaos around her.”
Beutner said a team from L.A. Unified got her to a hospital where the student is now receiving care.
“Students can work to improve their grades, but we don’t want to penalize those who may not have access to technology or may be experiencing difficulties at home,” he said later in the briefing. “We don’t want students like the young woman I mentioned earlier to fear failure.”
The policy was confirmed by Chief Academic Officer Alison Yoshimoto-Towery, who spoke of concerns from educators who believe economic hardship within families could impact the ability of students to learn, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Roughly 80% of students in the district come from low-income families.
“Expecting students to be able to deal with a global pandemic and then deal with schoolwork is unfair,” said Dorsey High School senior Amee Meza told the paper. “We believe that there should be universal passing for all classes because we know that there’s inaccessibility and that there’s inequality … in the way students are learning.”
Los Angeles campuses will also be closed for the remainder of the academic year — including the summer. State and local health authorities will have to provide guidance on when it is “safe and appropriate” to reopen school facilities.
“There is still no clear picture in testing, treatments or vaccines and we will not reopen school facilities until state authorities tell us it is safe and appropriate to do so,” Beutner added during the video briefing, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“The remainder of the school year … will be completed in the current, remote fashion and we will have a summer session in a similar manner.”
Beutner said the district will be working to help bridge the transition of students during the coronavirus outbreak who may be a few credits short as they transition from high school to the next chapter of their lives.
“We won’t allow the closure of school facilities to close the doors of opportunity high school diplomas will open,” he added.
California has over 24,379 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 732 deaths as of Monday evening, according to data from Johns Hopkins.