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To Avoid Crossing Picket Lines LAUSD Parents Opt for Parks, Rec Centers

Los Angeles-Downtown, CA – Jan. 14: 3rd grade teacher Andrea Estrada of Vermont Avenue Elementary School with her La Huegla/The Strike loteria card sign during the rally in Downtown LA for the LAUSD Teacher Strike on January 14, 2019. (Brian Feinzimer)

[dropcap size=big]N[/dropcap]othing is normal in Los Angeles this morning.

It’s pouring rain and teachers have walked out of their classrooms and on to picket lines across the city. Now parents are left figuring out where their kids will go, and whether they should cross the picket line in front of their kid's school.

Protestors march over the 110 Freeway in downtown during the LAUSD teachers strike on January 14, 2019. All photos by Brian Feinzimer.
Los Angeles-Downtown, CA - Jan. 14: Protestors march over the 110 Freeway Downtown during the LAUSD Teacher Strike on January 14, 2019. (Brian Feinzimer)

Some stay-at-home moms and dads are volunteering to take in the children of working parents and non-profits are opening their doors to kids without a place to go during the walkout. L.A. parks and libraries are pitching in, too.

“We opened at 8, and there was a long line of parents waiting to get in,” a staff person at the Highland Park Recreation Center told L.A. Taco. “Not sure how many more will come, but we had a lot of pre-registration.”

Teachers from Victory Boulevard Elementary School in North Hollywood participate in a rally in downtown during the LAUSD teachers strike on January 14, 2019.
Los Angeles-Downtown, CA - Jan. 14: Treachers from Victory Boulevard Elementary School in North Hollywood participate in a rally in Downtown LA during the LAUSD Teacher Strike on January 14, 2019. (Brian Feinzimer)

About 40 children were at the Highland Park Recreation Center on Monday morning, most of them were elementary school age. About 10 kids were playing basketball and handball on an indoor full court. Some 15 children were playing games and doing puzzles in an adjacent play room. About half a dozen staff were on hand supervising.

A strike by tens of thousands of teachers of the L.A. Unified School District, the nation's second-largest school district, began Monday with picketing and a protest march to district headquarters in downtown after the two sides did not renew negotiations over the weekend.

Teachers and protesters rallying during in downtown LA on January 14, 2019.The city currently has 37 recreation centers open with extra staff for children during the teachers strike for free from 8 am to 4 pm.

“It is nice that they have it open. It’s really convenient for parents,” said parent Dennis Perez, a resident of Highland Park. He said his wife, Sonya Huizar, teaches at Gratts Elementary School in Westlake, a neighborhood near downtown L.A. “It’s right next to the district’s headquarters.” She is also on the picket line today, he said.

Children at the Highland Park Rec Center had pizza for lunch today, a different staffer said.

A parents drops off an LAUSD student at this rec center in Highland Park. Photo by Philip Iglauer.
A parents drops off an LAUSD student at this rec center in Highland Park. Photo by Philip Iglauer.

Contingency plans are shaping up much like they did last year during education-related walkouts and strikes in other parts of the country, such as in Arizona, Oklahoma, and West Virginia, where city departments, organizations and parents stepped up with safe and affordable childcare options for parents.

Signing in for the day. Photo by Philip Iglauer.
Signing in for the day. Photo by Philip Iglauer.

“I think it’s awesome that Garcetti released funds to do this for of the working parents that don’t want to cross the picket line,” said Alice Ryu, who was dropping off her two children with her mother. Ryu said her kids attend Mount Washington Elementary and Eagle Rock Elementary School.

A protester shows a sign regarding LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner outside LAUSD headquarters during on January 14, 2019.
Los Angeles-Downtown, CA - Jan. 14: A protester shows a sign regarding LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner LAUSD Headquarters during the LAUSD Teacher Strike on January 14, 2019. (Brian Feinzimer)

The city is bolstering its personnel and resources at city recreation centers, libraries, and family source centers “to support families with additional options,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said before the strike started. “We will also be deploying LAPD resources to help safeguard our city's children during a strike by providing officers at our city facilities and at LAUSD schools.”

Two LAPD officers stopped by the Highland Park Recreation Center. They said they are patrolling the schools, libraries, and parks more frequently during the strike.

“We support the teachers and didn’t want to have to cross the picket line, said Jennifer Blankenship, a parent of an elementary school age girl. “So, we’re glad that this is available.”

RELATED: The Strike Is On! ~ The Latest Updates from the L.A. Teachers Strike

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