VIDEO: LBUSD parents scramble as schools shut down; ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do’

Long Beach Unified announced Friday that its schools would shut down for the next five weeks over concerns about the spread of coronavirus, which means that 72,000 students will have to continue their studies from home.

Families attending Edison Elementary School were notified in an email around 10:30 a.m. Friday. But many parents were not aware of the shutdown until they arrived on campus to pick up their children, that afternoon.

“I just came to pick up my three kids and they just told me that school’s going to be out for the next five weeks,” Sergio Brennen said. “That’s gonna hurt parents and our refrigerators.”

Brennan, who has six children, is one of tens of thousands of parents who rely on the school’s free or reduced-price meal program. While the district hopes to mitigate some of the stress by continuing to provide students with “grab-in-go” breakfast and lunch, families all over the city are scrambling to adjust to the new circumstances.

LBUSD students were sent home with homework packets and books which may be scanned or turned in at a later time. Some classwork will also be done online. The district is also working to provide hotspots for the 12% of students who don’t have home internet. Still, parents are concerned how well students will cope with the changes.

“My main preoccupation is the kids. They’re going to stop learning and they’ll begin to forget what they’ve learned,” said Cynthia Spain, mother of six. “My son is in special education and I’m fearful that by the time school begins again, he’ll have forgotten most things.”

Spain said she intends to keep an academic atmosphere at home and have her children regularly do homework and review their textbooks.

“We’re just going to be at home; what else can we do?”

Abel Garcia says now that the school has closed, he will have to hire a babysitter to stay with his young children for the next month. Hiring a babysitter is a costly option, but it’s their only one. Both he and his wife work full-time and can’t afford to take time off.

“This is hard,” Garcia admitted. “I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

Briana Mendez-Padilla of VoiceWaves contributed to this story.

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Cheantay Jensen is an editorial intern who covers art and culture for the Hi-lo section of the Long Beach Post.
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