Worried about the looming teachers' strike that may start on Thursday? Join the club. While many Los Angeles parents who send their kids to LAUSD public schools have been concerned about how to keep their kids learning and busy during the first teachers' strike in 30 years, there may be a (small) silver lining: Students will get free admission to some favorite LA museums and free Metro rides as long as the strike continues (if it happens).
While many parents who work can't pull their kids from school during the strike, those who are able to may do so for a few reasons. Some families may simply want to show their support for teachers, but others have safety concerns. Without enough substitute teachers to fill in, many schools are expected to adopt a schedule that doesn't include much in the way of instruction—and parents have questions about how much supervision children will receive. Others have expressed concerns about the requirements for volunteers being relaxed during the strike. (Though volunteers will not need to pass a full federal background check, they will still be checked against a national database of sex offenders, according to CBS News.)
So, if you are a parent who keeps your child home, what do you do with this unexpected quality kid time? Mayor Eric Garcetti is suggesting you head to the museum and take public transport to get there. "We have to do everything possible to ease the burden on parents and children affected by a strike,” Garcetti said in a statement. “Free rides on Metro mean that families will have one less thing to worry about while both parties work toward an agreement.”
According to the Daily News, Metro bus operators will check for LAUSD student IDs while on buses, and fare enforcement officers will allow students with ID cards to ride for free on Metro's gold, blue, green, and Expo light rail lines. On the red and purple lines, TAP personnel will help kids enter through subway fare gates, also for free.
Kids who still want to learn while their teachers strike will be able to visit the Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County for free throughout the duration of the strike. This means not only the Natural History Museum in Exposition Park, but also the LaBrea Tar Pits Museum and the William S. Hart Museum. Chaperones (meaning moms, dads, babysitters, and other grown-ups) go for free, too. The museums will be free from Monday to Friday, from 9:30am to 5pm, for as long as the strike continues.
The Petersen Automotive Museum is also offering free admission for LAUSD students through February 2, 2019. In addition to free admission, kids can take part in the museum's daily supplemental educational programs, STEAM-based tours and projects, and other enrichment activities. Free admission applies Monday through Friday.
The LA Zoo has also jumped on board. It will be offering free admission to LAUSD students grades K-12 and $5 tickets to accompanying chaperones Monday through Friday during the strike. Kids just need to bring a school ID card, report card, school newsletter or similar proof of enrollment.
And while not free, the zoo will also be offering a supervised Community Safari Day program for children grades K-5, January 14-18. Admission is $50 per student, refundable if the strike ends before the day starts.
The Wallis Annenberg Pet Space is always free but normally saves its educational programs for weekends; for the duration of the teachers' strike, the facility will offer pet encounters, tours, demos, and reading to animals programs Wed-Sun, 11am-5pm.
Another free option for older kids who love animals is volunteering at one of LA's 6 Animal Service Centers. Kids ages 12-18 are welcome to spend a school day learning on the job and helping to care for shelter animals. Pre-registration is required as space is limited.
While free museum admission and bus rides may not make up for lost class time, for kids who can take advantage of the freebie it might make missing class almost worthwhile.
Top photo by Marco Verch/CC BY 2.0