As LAUSD starts school year online, Echo Park center offers students outdoor space to take remote classes

The center provides an outdoor space decked out with computers sitting atop distanced desks. In addition, the facility offers tutoring to students who need it.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- After two days of remote online orientation, LAUSD began actual classes on Thursday as the coronavirus pandemic forces classrooms to remain empty.

LAUSD is providing devices and internet access to students in need, and free one-on-one tutoring will be provided to K-8 students outside of school hours. Families that have additional questions about available resources can contact the help center by calling (213) 443-1300.

But remote learning doesn't mean being stuck at home for those students taking advantage of a learning center in Echo Park.

The Dream Center opened its learning center for students to come and take part in their remote classes. The center provides an outdoor space decked out with computers sitting atop distanced desks. In addition, the facility offers tutoring to students who need it.

Those with LAUSD-issued devices were seen in one section, and those using the Dream Center's computers were seen in another.
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LAUSD students start the new school year this week from home as the coronavirus pandemic forces classrooms to remain empty.

Los Angeles resident Tresa Maden came out to the learning center Thursday with her two grandchildren.

"I think it's awesome that the Dream Center's offering tutoring and a lot of other resources for families, and kids that's enrolled in LAUSD," Maden said. "I brought my two granddaughters Heaven and Jessica here today because I heard on Monday from Channel 7 that my local church Angelus Temple's Dream Center was offering all this, so I come out this morning to support my grandchildren with their education."

Maden said the first day of school this year was definitely different, given the circumstances. She called it a "transition" from what she and her grandchildren are used to.

"They're used to being inside in a classroom along with peers," she said. "But in this case, I can get them out of the house, you know, fast internet, tutoring, and with the new technology that I'm not used to but I'm adapting to."

The Dream Center is offering slots of about two hours per family. There are tutors available as well as food distribution Monday through Friday, which will be available via drive-thru and walk-up access. The food is not exclusive to families with students - it's available for anyone who is in need of a meal.

RELATED: LAUSD to offer free one-on-one tutoring for students most in need
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Free one-on-one tutoring will be provided as part of Los Angeles Unified's plan this fall for students, Superintendent Austin Beutner said Monday.

The average LAUSD school day is expected to go from 9 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. Teachers can work from home or in classrooms.

Staff who decide to return to campus will be provided with child care and personal protective equipment for their families. Those employees and their children will be regularly tested for coronavirus.

District officials have not said when all students might be able to return to schools.

Efforts to accelerate a return to LAUSD campuses were announced Sunday with the launch of a massive coronavirus testing and contact tracing program for staff, students and their families.

RELATED: LAUSD launching COVID-19 testing, contact tracing program

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LAUSD says the program will provide regular COVID-19 testing and contact tracing for school staff, students and their families.

Beutner says the testing and tracing plan will provide data that can be used as a guide for eventually renewing school operations. It will cost roughly $300 per student over a year - about $150 million total.

"So we're trying to get our testers tested and trained first and our contact tracers testing and trained first, so we're going through that right now," Beutner said. "Our goal is not to be the fastest, it's to be the best, so that's going to come in a measured fashion."

The district is also operating 63 grab-and-go centers that provide meals. They will be open this fall semester from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. on weekdays.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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