San Pedro, CA — Today, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors supported a proposal by Supervisor Janice Hahn to explore using county parks and libraries for alternative learning sites for children in the unincorporated area while school campuses remain closed.
“In the middle of this worsening pandemic distance learning is our safest option right now, but this is untenable for parents who can’t work from home and some of our most vulnerable families,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn. “We have been able to run summer day camps at our County parks safely this year despite the pandemic. I hope we can use a similar model to utilize our parks to provide safe, supervised spaces for kids to do their distance learning while they can’t be in the classroom.”
Last week, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that counties on the state’s “watch list,” which includes LA County, would not be able to return to in-classroom learning this fall. Local school districts have been working diligently to develop distance learning plans that work for all students. Despite all best efforts, there is a gap anticipated between what schools can provide and what families need, either in terms of technology and internet access, or supervision during the school day.
Hahn hopes that the County can help close this gap by using LA County parks and libraries in unincorporated areas as safe spaces children can spend the school day if they cannot do their distance learning at home.
“Parks have been available to support our county families during this pandemic and are ready to fill the gap for parents who are integrating back into the workplace and looking for a safe, supportive environment for their children,” said Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation Director Norma E. Garcia. “We understand that there are limited options for school-age kids, and we are happy to look into our department’s capacity to serve as alternate learning locations.”
LA County parks have already proven they can run programming safely amid this pandemic and have offered full and half-day camps this summer to help working parents. LA County parks also have WiFi access that would allow students to participate in distance learning. Local LA County Libraries have been supporting students with online homework support, reading activities, and grab and go summer lunches, while recently exploring additional options for student and parental support utilizing community rooms and outdoor spaces with safety protocols in place.
“I know that this won’t be an easy fix,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn. “This have never been done before. But we are in unprecedented times and we need to meet them with unprecedented and creative solutions for our residents.”
The motion passed today asks the Department of Parks and Recreation, in coordination with LA County Public Library, the Internal Services Department and the LA County Office of Education LACOE, in consultation with the Public Health Department, to report back to the Board in thirty days with a plan to provide appropriate staffing, supervision and supplemental programming at County sites to provide children in the unincorporated County with alternative learning environments during the period of online schooling.