“Back to school.” This phrase resonates differently as we adjust to the continued presence of COVID-19 in our lives. The Long Beach Unified School District will indeed be welcoming most students back to school at the end of this month with new public health protocols in place. In Downtown, the recent easing of COVID restrictions has opened up some supplemental education options, to broaden a student’s horizons and perhaps help balance a busy parent’s life. 


For parents and students, DTLB offers several resources to help in the education process. To help support the upcoming school year, take a look at the learning opportunities available in Downtown. 


*SCHOLARS COLLECTIVE is a Downtown educational service founded by Angela Macias, a tenured Professor of Education at California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH). Up and running for just a few weeks, Scholars Collective has already attracted several families with its tutoring services (both one-on-one and small group), homework help, and general academic support. Macias noted that the main attraction is the Enrichment Center, which is full of educational activities including science, art, and engineering projects, books, tech devices. “All kinds of fun things that are all educational,” she said.   


Macias trains teachers for a living; Her staff consists of credentialed teachers, new teachers, and college students on the Education track. Macias and staff spent several weeks designing lesson plans, so they have “hundreds of activities and lessons ready to go,” she said. “When kids come into the Enrichment Center, they get to decide what they want to do, and we pull out fun, educational things for them to engage with. The Enrichment Center is an hourly service, which is super convenient for parents.”

In a few weeks, Scholars Collective will open its Tech Lab, which will feature gaming computers, a “stream” lab where kids can create their own content to stream online, and access all aspects of computer education, from building to coding and programming. In all facilities at Scholars Collective, students and teachers wear masks, and group areas are sanitized after each play session.    


For more information about the services available at Scholars Collective, please click here to visit their website.  


The BILLIE JEAN KING MAIN LIBRARY (200 W. Broadway) has reopened, and one word best describes its educational resources: Riches. The Main Library (and every other Long Beach Public Library) has thousands of books and audiobooks, of course, but it also offers computers that can be used to perform research, type a report, create a presentation, and much more. Kids with their own devices are welcome to use the Library’s Wi-Fi. There is also the “Tech To-Go” option, which allows students 18 and over with a valid Long Beach Public Library card to check out a Chromebook (parents and caregivers can also check these out for students). 

At the other end of the student age spectrum, young “readers” from age zero to four can participate in the year-round  “Dive Into Reading” program, in which parents and caregivers are encouraged to read a thousand books to a little one, building their vocabulary and preparing them to enter kindergarten ready to learn.  


If a student can’t make it to the library or needs homework help after the library has closed, they can access the online resource Brainfuse HelpNow, which offers live tutoring for students from kindergarten through college. Brainfuse tutors are available every day from 1:00 PM. to 10:00 PM. The tutoring sessions, in English or Spanish, last 20 minutes at a time and include whiteboard technology so the tutor and student can interact via chat and with a drawing tool. 


The AQUARIUM OF THE PACIFIC is open once again, able to fulfill its mission of “instilling a sense of wonder, respect, and stewardship for the Pacific Ocean, its inhabitants, and ecosystems.” Masked attendees (indoors and outdoors) can roam the Aquarium’s many galleries and exhibits freely. 


Just underway online is the “Underwater Artists” series, in which an Aquarium educator will guide kids in creating art while they explore various ocean animals and habitats. 


Another online series, “Aquarium Adventures at Home,” begins at the end of August. Participating families use a live virtual connection with the Aquarium to make use of their “adventure kit,” which contains games, activities, and other educational materials. 


The MUSEUM OF LATIN AMERICAN ART (MoLAA), which reopened on July 14, is the only museum in the United States dedicated to modern and contemporary Latin American and Latino art. MoLAA just wrapped up its 2021 “Summer Art and Culture Camp,” where kids ages six to ten engaged in a variety of projects taught by different artists. It will be available next summer.


The PACIFIC ISLAND ETHNIC ART MUSEUM (PIEAM), which partners with many local universities and community educational organizations, is open to the public once again, with mask mandates in place. School and group tours remain on hold. 

Visitors to PIEAM and the other places listed in this article are advised to contact their destination beforehand to assure they have up-to-date information about restrictions and closures.