Photo History: Scenes From the Week the Schools Closed, as NYC and LA Shutter America’s 2 Biggest Districts

By Meghan Gallagher | March 20, 2020
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 16: An empty school playground is seen as the coronavirus continues to spread across the United States on March 16, 2020 in New York City. The World Health Organization declared coronavirus (COVID-19) a global pandemic on March 11th. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)

It has truly been an extraordinary week at school districts across the country. Just four days ago we published our first photo gallery of startling images: deserted college campuses, mass student evacuations, abandoned high school hallways. (See our photo gallery: Scenes From a Lost School Year

Now add to that surreal new normal the shuttering of schools in both New York City and Los Angeles — America’s two largest school districts.

As administrators in both cities have rushed to launch distance learning efforts, and to maintain assistance programs for students in need, the educational landscape in our biggest cities looks nothing like it did just three weeks ago. 

As the discussion now shifts to telelearning, standards, equity and homeschooling, we thought now would be the time to take a quick breath and reflect on a historic week for our biggest school communities. Here are some memorable and significant outtakes from the pandemic, as both NYC and LA wound down its campuses:

New York City:

March 17 – An empty hallway on what would otherwise be a school day at Yung Wing School P.S. 124 in Manhattan (Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
March 17 – Teachers and faculty members sit in on a meeting to learn remote teaching and methods for students at Yung Wing School P.S. 124 in Manhattan. (Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
School-owned laptops are put into labeled envelopes to be distributed to students in need for remote learning at Manhattan’s Yung Wing School P.S.124. (Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
March 18 – A bus stop sign notes that the public schools of New York City have been closed. There are 1,100,000 students in New York City’s 1,722 public schools. New York City streets, buses and subways are nearly empty, with most businesses closed. (Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images)
NYC Public Schools tweeted, “@DOEChancellor stopped by @PS130M to thank the dedicated school food workers of DC37. Their hard work is essential to feed our children. Reminder: free grab-and-go breakfast & lunch will be available at the entrance of every building from 7:30am-1:30pm for any student, all week.” (NYCSchools/Twitter)
March 18 – Three Columbia University students wear their caps and gowns in Times Square. (Rich Graessle/Getty Images)
March 16 — NYC school playgrounds were left empty. (Cindy Ord/Getty Images)
March 16 – A gate is locked at P.S. 39 (Angela Weiss/Getty Images)

Los Angeles’s Fight to Maintain Its Food Program:

LAUSD partnered with Red Cross to open Grab & Go Food Centers, where students can take home two meals each weekday from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. (R Schorbach/flickr)
Los Angeles Unified School District enrolls more than 600,000 students. LAUSD.net shared that “Los Angeles Unified, in partnership with the Red Cross, will continue to provide nutritious meals to all students who need them during the temporary closure of schools.” (R Schorbach/flickr)
Austin Beutner, LAUSD superintendent, tweeted, “We are getting ready to open our Grab & Go Food Centers tomorrow. Visit http://lausd.net for more information.” (AustinLASchools/Twitter)
Currently, there are 60 locations around the district for families to get meals. LAUSD Grab & Go Food Centers can be found on this map. (R Schorbach/flickr)
LAUSD shared an update Thursday that 90,000 meals have been provided. (R Schorbach/flickr)
Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday that California schools will likely remain closed for the rest of the academic year. (jim61773/flickr)
The governor and mayor issued “Stay at Home” orders, but LAUSD stated that they expect essential services like food centers to remain open. The centers continue to observe social distancing. (R Schorbach/flickr)
LAUSD Local District West tweeted about the opening of the Grab & Go Food Center at Fairfax High School. (LAUSD_LDWest/Twitter)
LAUSD parent Velia Casillas tweeted, “Thank you @AustinLASchools and @LASchools for providing our kids with a delicious and healthy breakfast and snacks for the day!” (vmc9600/Twitter)

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