Coronavirus: LA County parks, libraries could be used as learning sites while schools stay closed

L.A. County has voted to look for alternatives to distance learning now that students are expected to start the school year at home this fall.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Los Angeles County is thinking outside the box while schools remain closed for fall and as students learn from home.

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted to explore using county parks and libraries as learning sites for children in unincorporated areas.

Supervisor Janice Hahn said children of working parents may be at most disadvantaged as schools start virtually. She's asking county parks and libraries work with districts in unincorporated areas to create these learning sites for students in need.

"We have been able to run summer day camps at our County parks safely this year despite the pandemic," Hahn said in a statement. "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."

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The supervisor said online classes may create a gap due to limited access at home to internet and daytime supervision. She hopes parks and libraries can be used while remote learning continues.

"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," said Norma E. Garcia, director of the L.A. County Department of Parks and Recreation.

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County parks have Wi-Fi access and libraries have supported children throughout the pandemic with online homework help, reading activities and grab-and-go summer lunches, Hahn said.

"I know that this won't be an easy fix," Hahn said. "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."

Under the approved proposal, multiple county departments - Department of Parks and Recreation, L.A. County Public Library, Internal Services Department, Office of Education and Public Health Department - will present a plan for staffing, supervision and programming to the board in 30 days.

Most students in California are starting the new school year at home after Gov. Gavin Newsom said counties on the state's COVID-19 watch list would be prohibited from in-person learning until the necessary requirements are met.
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