MARTINEZ (KPIX) – Contra Costa County health officials issued new guidelines to prevent the spread of coronavirus Tuesday. While schools will stay open for now, a number of teachers have questions about that decision.

“We want to take care of our children and let them come here and have meals and other things they were lying on us for,” says Gabby Micheletti, a teacher at Richmond’s Verde Elementary School. “We also have to think about who they go home to, and what a vulnerable population there is, especially in places like North Richmond.”

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It was another day of classes at Verde Elementary, but for teachers, this week is not business as usual. They have several questions about the district’s response to the coronavirus.

“If tech companies are closing, if colleges are closing, why are we keeping schools open,” asks teacher Marissa Glidden.

“That’s a great question,” answered Dr. Rohan Radhakrishna, speaking at Tuesday’s media briefing.

Tuesday, the county repeated its assertion that given the current risk, the disruption of a school closure would likely outweigh any benefit.

“Many families rely on the schools for food and nutritious meals, for a safe place to be, for social support,” Dr. Radhakrishna explained. “Closing the schools is something that we will advise very carefully on.”

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“I’m worried we’re going to end up in a situation where were saying ‘hindsight is 2020,’ instead of being proactive about protecting kids, protecting vulnerable populations,” Micheletti said of her concerns as a teacher.

Health officials say their recommendations could change, but it would not necessarily be a district-wide decision.

“This is a very local decision,” says Radhakrishna. “Disease can be very local, and so we will be looking school by school before even going district by district and working closely with school leaders to make the right decision and advise them. It’s up to a school to choose what they want to do.”

The other recommendation for schools is more sanitizer and wipes, but the three teachers KPIX spoke with say their district has not given them additional supplies for that.

“So we just have to come up with the resources out of our own pocket, and I don’t think that’s fair,” says teacher Fernanda Garcia. “The district needs to provide, for all
schools, the things that we need and they’re not doing that.”

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KPIX reached out to the West Contra Costa School District on the question of the cleaning supplies. A district spokesperson says they are looking into the complaint.