The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has voted to explore using county parks and libraries as possible alternative learning sites for children, NBC Los Angeles reports.
The vote to use libraries and parks follows the decision to keep Los Angeles County schools closed for the Fall. The NBC report states that Supervisor Janic Hahn recommended the identification of "safe spaces" for children who cannot stay home, or who do not have access to computers.
Hahn says this is the safest option right now for parents who can't work from home and for the most vulnerable families. Hahn refers to the success of LA County's ability to safely run summer day camps despite the pandemic. Following a similar model to these summer camps, schools can utilize parks to provide safe, supervised spaces for kids to do their distanced learning.
The county's new parks and recreation director is optimistic. Department of Parks and Recreation Director Norma Garcia told NBC "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. 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."
Additionally, county parks have WiFi access and libraries have been supporting students with online homework support, reading activities and grab-and-go summer lunches. It may be possible for library community rooms and outdoors spaces to be used by students and parents.
The board reportedly directed employees from the parks, library, county education, public health and internal services departments to come back with a plan in 30 days to provide appropriate staffing, supervision and supplemental programming at county sites for children in the unincorporated areas of the county.
The board also directed the CEO to work with other departments to expand public access to WiFi.
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