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What? A strike? Parents blindsided by looming LAUSD walkout that is closing schools

Sonja Sharp and Andrew J. Campa, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

“I’ll have to stop working if they’re going to stay home,” said Crescent Heights mom Erika Aguilar, 35, who works at a bakery in Beverly Hills. “Right now everything is so expensive, it’s going to be very hard.”

Hunger, too, was top of mind. District spokeswoman Shannon Haber said administrators were hustling to finalize plans for grab-and-go meals. But how that would happen without thousands of Local 99 food service workers was still being worked out when the dismissal bell rang Friday afternoon.

In a district where most students eat breakfast and lunch at school and many take home supper, parents went into the weekend wondering how they would feed their children in the week to come.

El Sereno Elementary parent Joshua Tamases, 54, has been following the news of the school closures with dread and disbelief.

Earlier this month, the single father of two suffered a blow when his CalFresh benefits were reduced by around $100 as some COVID-19 aid was not renewed. The prospect of feeding his children breakfast and lunch for a few unanticipated days means more belt tightening.

“We’re going to do more with less,” Tamases said at dismissal Thursday. “With the way the economy is and inflation, everything just seems to get more and more difficult.”


But frustration stretched far beyond food and child care.

For many, the three-day strike was a bitter reminder of their children’s school setbacks, how they have fallen behind, both socially and academically, following protracted pandemic campus closures and a rocky return to the classroom.

Last year, half of all LAUSD students were chronically absent. This year, more than 150,000 California public school students were missing altogether — far more than switched to private schools or homeschooling — while a “tripledemic” of flu, COVID-19 and RSV kept thousands of newly unmasked and immunologically naive young children home sick for days at a time.

Now, principals were sending home 10 days of school work for what parents had been told was a three-day hiatus. The move was meant to give families flexibility, the district spokeswoman said. But some parents reacted with alarm. Three days was bearable, maybe. But an indefinite disruption less than a month after midwinter recess and just a week before the start of spring break felt existential.


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