LOS ANGELES — Free breakfast and lunch for schoolchildren is being offered across Los Angeles County after all 80 school district in the county closed for at least two weeks in response to the global coronavirus pandemic.
Officials said the decision to close schools in Los Angeles County was made to protect the health and safety of students, teachers and staff members.
Los Angeles County Office of Education Superintendent Debra Duardo March 13 announced her recommendation that all schools in the county close in response to COVID-19.
“After much consideration, I am making the recommendation that school closure is the most appropriate step at this point in light of the crisis facing our communities and nation,” Duardo said at the time. “Our focus must be on ensuring the continuity of learning as well as the safety and well-being of students, staff and families.”
Duardo said she has been working in consultation with State Superintendent Tony Thurmond and the California Department of Education to support school districts during the public health crisis.
“We are committed to supporting all 80 districts with guidance, technical assistance and resources to ensure continuity of learning, meal provision and other critical services during school closures,” Duardo said.
The Los Angeles Unified School District, which serves more than 700,000 students, has partnered with the Red Cross to open 60 Grab and Go Food Centers across the district. The centers will be open weekdays from 7 to 10 a.m.
“Each child can take home two nutritious meals,” LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner said.
LAUSD added that it is following guidelines from public health experts and government partners who have called for increased social distancing to slow the spread of the virus.
The Inglewood Unified School District is offering take home breakfast and lunch meals to all children, ages 2-19, between the hours of 9:30 and 11:30 a.m.
The district has set up curbside food distribution locations at Woodworth-Monroe School, Hudnall Elementary School, Highland Elementary School, Oak Street Elementary School, Centinela Elementary School, Bennett-Kew Elementary School (mobile unit) and Washington Elementary School (mobile unit).
Districts are turning to virtual learning with online classrooms, at-home workbooks and reading challenges to keep children engaged during the unforeseen break.
The county Office of Education has highlighted additional free resources to support continuity of education.
Charter is offering free access to Spectrum Broadband and Wi-Fi for 60 days for new student households.
Additionally, Zoom, a video conference service, is temporarily lifting the 40-minute time limit on free basic accounts for schools affected by the coronavirus.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented challenge for public schools … but I feel confident that the countywide education community can come together to mobilize resources to support our students, staff and families,”Duardo said.
By John W. Davis