Virus Outbreak California

Superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District Austin Beutner

(The Center Square) – With a shelter-in-place order in effect through at least April 3, many school districts are expected to remain closed through the end of April, and Orange County, among others, has banned all private and public gatherings.

Starting Monday, under a shelter-in-place order, group sports and recreation at parks, the Venice Beach boardwalk and public golf courses are banned.

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the nation’s second-largest school system with 900 campuses and 670,000 students, is expected to remain closed through the end of May. The LAUSD will offer televised and online lessons to also aid student learning.

“The public health crisis created by the coronavirus is not something any of us could’ve reasonably expected to happen and we are in uncharted waters as we work to prevent the spread of the illness,” Los Angeles schools Superintendent Austin Beutner said.

To aid parents, the school system announced it is opening 40 “family resource centers” on Wednesday. The centers will provide childcare, educational activities and other services, including packaged meals.

All center visitors will be required to have their temperature taken upon arrival, and all students are required to regularly wash their hands. District employees currently being trained to staff the centers are doing so on a voluntary basis and will receive extra pay.

Many argue the poorest students will be hurt the most by the school closures because many do not have access to the internet to learn and rely on school meals. The LAUSD enrolls about 500,000 students in K-12th grade, 80 percent of whom rely on free or reduced-price lunches, including 18,000 homeless minors.

While the district is providing an unprecedented 50,000 computers for students to take home and use for online learning, lower-income students will not be able to access online learning programs because of lack of access. The superintendent wrote a letter to local internet providers asking them to place free hotspots in low-income communities, which has not yet been done. Several carriers have donates free internet service to particular schools, but not to specific neighborhoods.

For those without access to the Internet, but access to a television, the LAUSD partnered with PBS to offer educational programming on three local public television stations. KCET offers high school class level programming; KLCS offers content for grades 3 through 8; KOCE will air preschool through grade 2 programming.

The U.S. Navy ship Mercy left the Port of San Diego Monday to dock in the Port of Los Angeles to help hospitals deal with non-coronavirus-related patients. The ship holds 1,000 beds in addition to housing medical personnel and support staff on board. The staff will handle medical cases to allow Los Angeles hospitals to treat patients infected with the virus. Assistance from the ship will free up resources like ventilators and intensive care units.

President Donald Trump has sent the U.S. National Guard to California and other states, including New York and Washington. FEMA is funding its deployment.

The other 1,000 medical bed U.S. Navy ship, Comfort, is en route to the New York harbor.