LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Hundreds of thousands of students throughout Southern California were left in the lurch when schools were closed to slow the spread of coronavirus, and the Los Angeles Unified School District in particular is in need of unprecedented help to keep children learning and fed.

“In ordinary times, we provide so much to support students,” LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner said. “Food, books, all of those things that they needed to keep structure in their lives.”

LAUSD is particularly hard hit by the pandemic and the closures. Before the closures, 80 percent of LAUSD’s families were already in poverty, while others have been hit by layoffs in the hospitality, travel and entertainment industries.

“Of the 4 million meals we have provided so far, about a third are to adults,” Beutner said. “So the children are coming, the adults need help. We ask no questions, we’re going to provide support to anyone that needs that help.”

LAUSD has already committed to investing $100 million in online learning, and previously announced a partnership with Verizon to provide internet service for students who don’t already have access. Beutner says the district has also partnered with Snapchat to create a virtual book club and with PBS to provide educational program on public television.

CBS2 is working with LAUSD to raise funds that will go toward providing meals during the closure, and providing books, computers and other technology to help students keep learning.

“The absence of school causes real hardship for students,” he said. “The stability, structure, friendships, loss of learning and most importantly for this conversation, the loss of a safety net.”

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