LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — With the unprecedented and sudden closure of more than 900 Los Angeles Unified School District campuses and 187 charter schools, thousands of parents scrambled Tuesday for last-minute child care for their students.
Facilities like the Dream Zone, run by the non-profit Dream Center, and several locations of the Boys & Girls Club opened their doors to parents in need of last-minute child care.
Superintendent Ramon Cortines made the decision early Tuesday to shut down all the district’s campuses and educational facilities after a “credible threat” that appeared to originate from Germany was emailed to several school board members.
Classes within the district typically begin at 8 a.m., and the announcement to close the campuses was made at about 7 a.m., but many parents were not notified until 7:30 or later, when some campuses have early child care.
“My husband called me and he told me, ‘You can’t take the kids to school’ … and because I go to adult school, he’s like, ‘You’re not going to go to school either because all the schools are shutting down,’ ” Toni Anaya, a mother to three students, said.
Anaya brought her children to the LA Boys & Girls Club in Lincoln Heights. Typically, it doesn’t open its doors until the afternoon, but the staff came in early upon learning of the sweeping closure.
“The major issue is communicating to everyone to let them know that we are available so if this continues, we will stay open all day long as long as the need is here,” Juana Lambert of the LA Boys & Girls Club said.
Robocalls to parents that went out after 7 a.m. said: “As a result of a threat received the superintendent has directed all schools to be closed today.” Some parents also got separate calls from the schools themselves.
Any students who were on their way to school or already on campus were gathered at each school’s reunion gate to wait for their parents.
Several facilities offered free child care in the wake of the massive school closure.
LAUSD is the second largest school district in the nation, serving more than 655,000 students at more than 900 campuses and 187 public charter schools.
“We need the cooperation of the whole of Los Angeles today,” LAUSD Board of Education President Steve Zimmer said. “We need families and neighbors to work together with our schools and with our employees to make sure our kids are safe throughout the day. We need employers to show the flexibility that a situation like this demands. We ask you to show the maximum possible flexibility with your employees who are primarily mothers and fathers and guardians today in this situation.”
To help parents deal with the unscheduled day off, the Petersen Automotive Museum, Discovery Cube Los Angeles, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Battleship USS Iowa offered students free admission in the wake of Tuesday’s school closure.
Though the closure was an inconvenience to parents, most agree the LAUSD made the right move by closing all schools.
“Because you never know what might happen,” Anaya said.
“In the scope of things, you know, you have to air on the side of caution,” Manny Gomez, a father, said.
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