Lompoc school district to offer free child care to first responders, medical workers
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Lompoc school district to offer free child care to first responders, medical workers

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With schools still closed amid the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, Lompoc Unified School District leaders have joined with other community partners to provide free child care for local families that are on the pandemic’s front lines.

District leaders announced over the weekend that they had teamed with the Lompoc Family YMCA and Lompoc Valley Medical Center to develop a drop-off care service for children of first responders, hospital workers and other critical staffers who have continued to work even as much of society has been put on hold to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

The center was slated to begin operation as soon as Wednesday, March 25, at La Cañada Elementary School. It will be offered in addition to free daily meals and academic resources that LUSD is providing for students during the school closure, which is scheduled to last at least through Friday, April 3, but could end up going longer.

“We take care of kids; that’s what we do,” LUSD Superintendent Trevor McDonald said. “We will continue to feed children, period. Helping our emergency and critical service people helps our community at large. We are happy to step up and do what we can.”

Child care workers at the site, according to LUSD, will be trained by medical personnel on how to properly screen children and adults for symptoms of COVID-19. Further, the district reported, strict procedures will be followed for child drop-off, pick-up and on-site interactions between people.

“LUSD custodial staff have been trained on how to properly sanitize the rooms and areas where child care will be held," said Doug Sorum, the district's director of maintenance and operations. "In addition, we have purchased a sanitizing cannon to maximize our cleaning abilities.”

On Monday, as workers continued to prepare the child care site, paper covered some cabinets and other places that had yet to be cleaned.

The center was slated to be open 13 hours per day in an effort to accommodate the many first responders and hospital workers who work 12-hour shifts. 

In addition to offering child care, the LUSD staffers at the site will be provided with grade-level appropriate curricula to use with the children. 

LUSD also plans to provide breakfast and lunch at the site, while local restaurant Tom's Burgers has agreed to provide dinners. All staff members involved with handling food have been trained in COVID-19 food handling procedures, according to LUSD.

Although the child care service was expected to start at just one school site, LUSD leaders have said it could expand if demand dictates. The number of people who qualify to use the service could also grow to include more workers who are considered essential, such as those employed at grocery stores and gas stations.

“We hope to be able to scale this up and are already preparing a second site," said Bree Valla, an assistant superintendent with LUSD.

For more information on LUSD services and programs, visit lusd.org.

Willis Jacobson covers the city of Lompoc for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @WJacobsonLR.

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Each of the organizations awarded a total of two scholarships, valued at $500 each. Denise Robles, from Lompoc High School, was named as the recipient of a scholarship from both groups, while Cabrillo High School student Morgan McIntyre claimed the other scholarship from the Lompoc Valley Democratic Club, and fellow Cabrillo student Daniela Jacobson was the recipient of the other award from the March For Our Lives committee.

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