Local businesses on Tuesday responded quickly to the unexpected closing of the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Restaurants offered free lunches to students, museums waived admission fees, and businesses opened their doors to kids as employees woke up to a morning in flux.
“We encouraged our employers to make it a ‘Take Your Child to Work Day,’” said David Rattray, Vice President of Education and Workforce Development at the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce. “It’s a way to take a situation where somebody is really trying to perpetrate really evil things on us and find something positive out of it.”
The school district, the second largest in the country, closed abruptly Tuesday morning after receiving an email threatening violence at city schools.
Rattray said that the Chamber sent an email to 1,700 member companies, urging them to be flexible.
“We are fully cognizant that the need for hundreds of thousands of students to have parental care on zero notice is a tremendous logistical challenge and we ought to be mindful of that and engaged,” Rattray said, adding that it was too soon to know the financial impact of the closures.
In the email, the Chamber of Commerce asked employers to support caregivers and parents.
“We thank you as the business community stands with LAUSD,” the email said.
Jon McDuffie managing partner at On Scene Emergency Management Solutions, an all-hazard plan development company, said that his son, a kindergartner at the Aladama Duel Immersion Program, had come to work with him at his Los Angeles office.
“Thankfully the rest of my employees live outside of L.A. Unified and they weren’t impacted by this,” he said.
By Tuesday afternoon, the threat that prompted Los Angeles Unified School District officials to close all schools appeared to be a hoax, although authorities had not determined where the threat originated.
But Jose Grijalva, 41, co-owner of Joselito’s Mexican Food in Tujunga, had already put his own plan in action.
Between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Tuesday, he said, his restaurant offered area kids free tacos and drinks.
“My partner works the lunch program at school and we were talking about the kids who get the free lunch because they can’t afford it and that they may go hungry, which is unfortunate,” Grijalva said. “So I said, ‘Let’s do something.’”
Among the first calls he made Tuesday morning were to employees whose kids attend local schools.
“I didn’t want them to worry,” Grijalva said.