From grab-and-go meals to online magic shows, LAUSD is here for West LA

By Nick Melvoin

School board member Nick Melvoin hands out packaged meals to local students

Melvoin represents District 4 on the school board of the Los Angeles Unified School District.

At 8 a.m. on Monday, I was at Webster Middle School in West LA, but not, of course, to check-in on classes or students. Although it’s only been five weeks since we closed schools, the world, and LA Unified, look a whole lot different. But our core mission of educating kids and supporting our community remains unchanged. And that’s why I was at Webster, visiting one of our Grab & Go food centers to see how things were going for the volunteers and families they’re serving.

Our first priority when schools closed was getting 63 Grab & Go food centers up and running — including at Marina del Rey Middle School in your area — that have served over 10 million meals and counting; LA Unified is running the largest food bank in the country. All of our Grab & Go centers are open Monday through Friday,
8 a.m. to 11 a.m., with meals available to anyone in need, no questions asked.

From there, I joined a Zoom call with parents from Coeur d’Alene in Venice 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 Mar Vista Elementary, Grand View Elementary, and Katherine Johnson STEM Academy, and new iPads at Cowan 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. And if you want to help our efforts, consider donating at
LAStudentsMostinNeed.org. The district has also launched a mental health hotline, so anyone can call (213) 241-3840 for help.

I also have been hosting regular virtual conversations with leaders, experts, and parents, and so far we have had conversations about fostering resilience and well-being and how to support our earliest learners, plus a magic show for kids and families. Join us every Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. live at facebook.com/nick.melvoin.

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 teachers and staff at Beethoven Elementary meeting on Zoom to share best practices, learn from each other, and develop learning plans. Mark Twain Middle School’s staff, on top of transitioning to online learning, have been creating videos to lift their students’ spirits. And we helped coordinate and distribute 400 donated headphones, in partnership with One Family LA, to students who needed them to minimize distractions while learning at home. We also worked with the Del Rey Neighborhood Council to set up local meal delivery from our Grab & Go sites. And when I was at Webster this morning, 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.

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