About 57% of families with children enrolled at Los Angeles Unified School District are reporting job losses and only half of families say they have the necessary equipment and knowledge needed for online classroom learning, according to survey results released Monday.
More than 12,000 families participated in the May survey, and LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner said the district will continue to address the issues raised in it and find ways to help.
“Job losses and the impact on families is a stark reminder of how real the struggle is in the communities we serve…” Beutner said. “Let that sink in. Most families were struggling to get by before this crisis, and more than half of their situations have gotten worse.”
Highlights of the survey include:
— 57% of families reported lost jobs during the pandemic;
— Only about half of the respondents have the necessary equipment and feel reasonably knowledgeable about online classroom technology;
— Roughly three-quarters of families said they feel schools are doing a good job of providing learning materials and instruction; and
— 80% of respondents said they have been in contact with their child’s teacher.
In response to the survey results, district officials said they have hosted town hall meetings in 35 communities and each school principal has hosted school meetings.
Beutner also said LAUSD is looking to simplify its online classroom platforms, and district officials are working to establish internet classrooms to help students.
Students at home also are being provided with devices and internet access, if needed.
But while some schools are excelling with the online classrooms, Beutner said others have had difficulty keeping students engaged.
“The level of engagement in classrooms and schools varies a great deal,” Beutner said. “That’s a great concern, as we’ll make sure every student is engaged in learning. Teachers from all schools will continue to reach out to individual students and encourage them to participate, just as they would in a classroom.”
LAUSD Board Member George J. McKenna III said the district must be “hyper-vigilant” in its communication and connection tactics for delivering instructional content virtually.
Board Member Monica Garcia said, “While grateful for every effort to serve our community during this crisis, we must work with our state leaders to create permanent access to technology and connectivity immediately as the majority of our students are the children of essential workers or workers who have lost their jobs. They deserve our undivided attention to create avenues for learning under these extended stay-at-home orders.”
Beutner said relief for public schools from the state and federal governments is critical as they continue to keep students up to speed with rudimentary education. Just as residents and local governments have received financial assistance, schools need the same help due to the pandemic, he said.
“Governments have established virus task forces and job task forces, whereas the education task force cuts to funding in schools will forever impact the lives of children,” Beutner said. “The harm children are facing is just as real a threat to them, as is the coronavirus. Why aren’t we able to provide the funding to prevent this from happening? Is it because the harm is silent and unseen, unlike the images of overflow on hospitals? Is it because children don’t have a voice?”
Help for LAUSD families is available at 213-443-1300. And, the district offers meals to families in need through its Grab and Go centers.