With schools closing as officials try to slow the spread of the coronavirus, the Los Angeles Unified School District announced Sunday it will be setting up meal and resource centers to help families as students transition to learning from home.
Since the nation’s second-largest school district announced the two-week closures last week, parents voiced concerns about finding child care and providing meals for their children while working to earn a living.
LAUSD plans to open 40 family resource centers to care for the students starting Wednesday, but operating them depends on whether the centers can be properly staffed with volunteers from the district’s employees, Superintendent Austin Beutner said.
The centers would have health and safety protocols that include temperature screenings and mandatory hand washing for anyone who enters the facility, according to the district.
“I believe we should help as best we can but only if we can do so safely,” Beutner said in a written statement.
The centers will be open between about 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. and most are likely to be at closed schools, the Los Angeles Times reported.
LAUSD is also working to open 20 “grab-n-go” food centers where students can pick up free meals on weekdays starting Wednesday, according to Beutner.
The district is responsible for more than 500,000 students, and about 80% of them rely on their schools for free or reduced lunches.
Employees who choose to volunteer at the family resource centers would receive a daily stipend of $100 in addition to their usual pay, according to LAUSD’s website.
Volunteers are needed to help implement safety measures, clean the campuses, lead recreational activities, counsel anxious children and help encourage students to read, the district said.
“We all know there is no substitute for learning in a school setting but in these most unusual of circumstances, we are going to do the best for our students that we can,” Beutner said.
The family resource centers are scheduled to open Wednesday and the district said it expects to release more information before Tuesday.
“Facts and circumstances, however, are changing quickly and the opening of the Family Resource Centers as well the Grab & Go Food Centers will be subject to the continuing guidance of state and local health and public safety authorities that it is appropriate to do so and that all students and staff will be safe,” Beutner said.
LAUSD also set up a hotline for families to call with questions about COVID-19: 213-443-1300.