After a medical treatment center at Tucker Elementary school closed in June due to safety concerns, families with children with disabilities have had to find care in surrounding cities, which parents say is an immense burden.

After the facility closed until further notice on June 8, families received a letter on Aug. 2 notifying them that the facility would reopen on the 21st, according to Benedicta Sanchez, whose son has been receiving services at the Long Beach location for six years.

However, on Sept. 12, families were notified that the facility would once again close due to safety concerns—a tile had fallen from the ceiling, Sanchez said.

Now, parents are urging the district to find a location within Long Beach, as they have struggled with navigating transportation to locations outside the city.

Sanchez, whose 7-year-old receives physical and occupational therapy at the center twice a week, said her son struggles with the 45 to 50-minute drive they now need to make to Downey.

On one drive, she may need to make one, or two, or even three stops to suction her son, who does not have a working gag reflex.

“We understand that the facility had to close due to much needed repairs— We completely understand that,” Sanchez said. “However, it is not reasonable to ask for a child with a disability to sit in a car seat by themselves until they get to the other therapy unit which is three to four cities away.”

Alternative sites for a medical treatment unit facility within Long Beach Unified are currently being explored, with hopes of students continuing to receive services close to their homes “as soon as possible,” a district spokesperson said.

The district did not confirm specifically what had caused either closure, nor did officials give a timeline for a new location.

“We will keep families updated and we thank them for their patience,” said the spokesperson in an email.

A few parents, meanwhile, have been protesting in front of the district headquarters since Thursday.

One of them is Olivia Peyrefitte, whose 11-year-old grand-nephew has received services at the center for about four years. With rising prices in gas, transportation to further locations such as San Pedro, Redondo Beach, and Downey, has also been more of a financial burden for families.

Many of the other parents care for multiple children, making the extra travel time even more of a hardship, she added.

If the district can not find a new location for the medical treatment center soon, Peyrefitte hopes they will consider removing all of the tiles from the ceiling—according to Peyrefitte, a tile falling had also caused the initial closure in June, and the tiles put the safety of all students at the school at risk, she said.