‘We’re All in this Together, Apart’
I began my week at Webster Middle School in West LA, but not, of course, to visit classrooms or meet with staff. It has been less than six weeks since we closed schools, and our campuses—like most of the world—look a whole lot different. But our core mission of educating kids and supporting our community remains unchanged. Which is why I was at Webster, checking in on volunteers and families being served at one of our Grab and Go food centers.
Our first priority when schools closed was to make sure that kids still had access to school meals by opening 63 Grab and Go food centers. We have served over 10 million meals and counting, essentially running the largest food bank in the country. All of our Grab and Go centers are open Monday-Friday, 8-11 a.m., with meals available to anyone in need, no questions asked.
Another new routine of mine has been joining Zoom calls with parents, teachers or even students to discuss the transition to distance learning. In order to ensure every student had equitable access to the materials needed to connect and continue learning, we made an emergency investment of $100 million in devices and mobile hotspots.
Luckily, some of our schools had less of a hurdle getting devices into kids’ hands because my office funded new instructional technology through our bond grant program over the past two years—including Chromebook carts at Canyon and Palisades Elementary.
But this crisis has exposed more than just the digital divide and we’re doing our best to provide needed resources to kids and families. You can visit achieve.lausd.net/resources or call our COVID-19 family hotline 213-443-1300 to view a full list of resources and services available for students, families and employees during this time. The district has also launched a mental health hotline, so anyone can call 213-241-3840 for help. And if you want to help our efforts, consider donating at LAStudentsMostinNeed.org.
I also have been hosting regular virtual conversations with leaders, experts and parents, as well as fun, kid-friendly activities at the end of the week. So far, we have had conversations about fostering resilience and well-being, how to support our earliest learners, and a virtual magic show. Join us live at facebook.com/nick.melvoin every Wednesday and Friday at 4:30 p.m. for a virtual conversation and virtual activity, respectively. We’ll be doing yoga for kids tomorrow and answering questions about online learning platforms next week.
Every family should have access to a great education—even while staying home. And you don’t have to look further than your own neighborhoods to know it’s possible. We’ve seen the Pali High Choir put on a virtual concert for medical staff and essential workers. We’ve seen the staff at Paul Revere Middle School making sure every family can connect and feel comfortable using their online learning platform.
We’ve seen Palisades Elementary students learning math over Zoom with a virtual whiteboard. Instead of canceling their fourth-grade “Pioneer Day,” one Marquez Elementary class decided to dress up from home and recreate the day online. One science class at Pali High has even been 3-D printing medical masks to donate to local hospitals. And we’ve been able to cut red tape and help facilitate countless partnerships to make sure our families and communities are getting what they need.
And when I was at Webster, I also was able to thank our construction teams who are diligently, and safely, continuing to make needed facilities repairs and improvements. The work goes on.
We are all doing our best to adapt to an ever-evolving situation. No amount of technology can match a “typical” day at school, but we will continue working tirelessly, thinking creatively and providing support to get our kids, families and school communities through this crisis together, but apart.
LAUSD Board of Education
Many thanks to Steve Cron for his letter in the April 2 edition setting out the comprehensive narrative of the Trump administration’s wholesale mismanagement of the coronavirus crisis. It is inconceivable how even those who are trapped in the Fox News echo chamber continue to sing Trump’s praises despite his total disregard for the truth and facts.
Just in the course of his coronavirus briefings, Trump has reversed himself multiple times answering simple questions, gone off on a self-congratulatory non-sequitur about his TV ratings or being #1 on Facebook, and given credence to his son-in-law’s ridiculous statements.
How anyone cannot realize Trump’s sole purpose is personal aggrandizement is beyond comprehension.
The Palisadian-Post accepts letters to the editor via email at email@example.com or mail/hand-delivered at 881 Alma Real Drive, Suite 213, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272. To be considered for publication, letters must be signed, and are subject to editing for length and clarity. Opinions expressed in letters do not necessarily reflect the views of opinions of the Palisadian-Post.
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.