Features Magazine News Volume 69, Issue 7

How are Underprivileged Families Being Accommodated for During Shelter-in-Place?

Photography by Yiying Zhang

After school was initially cancelled, it took some time for both teachers and students to get their footing and figure out how to make online school work. Even now, teachers are still experimenting with online schooling. Despite how unplanned online school may feel, Las Lomas and the Acalanes Union High School District put careful consideration into helping underprivileged students while they’re away from school. 

Prior to school’s cancellation, many emails and loop mails were sent out giving updates on the coronavirus and how it may affect Las Lomas and the district, which shows that the cancellation was not an impromptu decision. On March 12th, the day before the decision to cancel school was made, Principal Tiffany Benson sent one such loopmail update. Included in the loopmail was a student survey used to determine which students do or do not have access to a computer and internet access at home, in case of online school. After the school’s closure, on March 17th, students in need of a device were able to go to Las Lomas to pick up a chromebook for online schooling, and the students in need of internet access were provided with a free hotspot.

Many students rely on their school lunches as their one healthy meal of the day. When the district realized this, they constructed a plan to continue providing free lunches. Every Monday through Friday, Las Lomas and Campolindo are open from 11am to 1pm providing free lunch to any child under 18. “No identification or proof of school enrollment is required, but a child must be present,” said Superintendent John Nickerson in a newsletter. “AUHSD is committed to providing healthy meals for those in need during school closure.”

Unfortunately, the City of Walnut Creek is not able to do much to help underprivileged families during the coronavirus. Despite this, the city is still trying to support underprivileged families in what ways they can. “The City is continuing to be concerned about its unhoused population,” said Mayor Loella Haskew. “It has supported the non-profit organizations that are the front-line in this particular area of concern.  The City is in the process of allocating federal grant money to these organizations who are and have been the safety-net for many people for a long time.”

Fortunately, in this crisis, the district has made sure that students in need are given necessities. “After meeting with District Administration, we agreed that the primary purpose of our organization is to ensure that our students stay well and connected through these very confusing and unprecedented times,” said Benson. “To do this, we will commit to being available as a resource to our community for a variety of needs, including education, food service, essential materials, and support…We all must do our part to support the health of our community. We are all in this together.”