City officials on Friday announced Long Beach Unified School District campuses would be closed for the next five weeks. With spring break factored in, students will spend 19 normal school days at home.
School officials are scrambling to work out a number of logistical details, including how students will access educational materials and turn in work.
The plans include students doing classwork online or being given homework packets and textbooks to take home, LBUSD Chris Steinhauser said at a Friday afternoon press conference.
“This was a very difficult decision,” Steinhauser said, but school and health officials thought was necessary to slow the spread of the new coronavirus disease, COVID-19.
So what happens now?
Here’s how kids can get food
About 50,000 students take advantage of the district’s free or reduced meal program, which is about 70% of the district, Steinhauser said. Every school will offer grab-and-go meals from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. for breakfast and lunches from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Students will not be able to stay and eat at the schools.
How will students access their schoolwork?
Students already do a lot of online work, Steinhauser said, but about 12% do not have internet access at home. The district has hotspots available for students to use to complete their online work. In addition, they will have books and print materials available to them, either to be scanned and turned in or turned in once students get back. The district is also working with public access television to work out more solutions.
“Faculty and teachers are being very flexible with students in ensuring that the students aren’t being penalized and that they’re aware of the digital divide,” Mayor Robert Garcia said.
Long Beach a LA County libraries also remain open, at least for the time being. The Signal Hill library is open as well, but only allowing 50 people at a time.
What if I have to work and have no child care?
For families that have little to no options for child care, Steinhauser said the district had to make the “tough decision” to not provide it because it conflicts with the entire social isolation purpose of the school closures.
“We understand this is a huge challenge when they were talking through, but the decision was made first and foremost as a health decision for the health of everybody,” Garcia said.
In its initial announcement, the district encouraged parents to not leave their children with elder, at-risk family members.
Will disabled students still get services?
Shortly after the school district announced its campuses were closing, parents of students with individualized education plans (IEPs), reported getting emails saying their children would no longer be receiving any special education services or support.
However, at a press conference Friday afternoon, Steinhauser said, “The students with IEPs will continue with services through various means.”
We’ve asked the school district for any more clarity it can provide on this topic.
Check the LBUSD coronavirus webpage for updates and more information.