SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — School districts across the Bay Area have announced closures and cancellations that will put students on a multi-week hiatus because of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
BAY AREA SCHOOL CLOSURES
- Marin County public schools to close starting on Monday, March 16th for at least two weeks; full list here
- Pittsburg United School District to close starting on Monday, March 16th for two weeks
- Oakland Unified School District to close at end of classes Friday through at least Sunday, April 5
- Mt. Diablo Unified School District to close beginning March 17
- Santa Cruz County Public Schools to close for the week of March 16-20
- Tamalpais High School to close beginning Friday March 13
- San Francisco Unified: Glen Park Elementary to close Friday; other S.F. schools close Monday, March 16
- Berkeley Unified: Berkeley High closed Friday; other city public schools close Monday, March 16
- Diocese of San Jose: all diocese schools close beginning Friday March 13
- San Mateo Union High School District: schools close Monday, March 16
- Hillsborough City School District: closing Monday March 16
- West Contra Costa County Unified District: closing Monday
- Archdiocese of San Francisco: closed through through March 25
Mt. Diablo Unified School District Superintendent Robert Martinez wrote in a message Friday that the district’s schools will be closed starting next week. Monday was already a professional development day for teachers with no students present, so the closures will officially take effect Tuesday.
“More specifics will follow this afternoon regarding the parameters of the closure, and plans to maintain some services for students during the formal closure to schools,” Martinez wrote.
“We do not make this decision lightly, as we understand that school closures can be difficult on our families,” he continued. “We believe that this decision is in the best interest of our students and we will continue to monitor the situation and to communicate openly with our community.”
On Thursday, SFUSD Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews made the announcement closing San Francisco schools for 3 week starting Monday, saying officials were “taking the time to prepare their school communities in the likelihood of a prolonged COVID-19 epidemic.”
Matthews said the break would begin on March 16 and run for three weeks until April 6th. Spring break for the district was already scheduled to start on March 30.
COMPLETE COVERAGE: CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK
“This is not business as usual,” he said. “It is likely we will see many more COVID-19 cases in the coming weeks and months. This is will require a measured, sustained response.”
According to Matthews, during the break, teachers and administrators will receive training “on how to run schools during this epidemic.” The training will include practicing more universal precautions and increasing social isolation practices.
“An informed community, is a safer community,” he said.
Among those pushing for the closure were teacher and staff unions, along with some elected officials at San Francisco’s City Hall.
“If there was somebody who was affected by the virus, it could spread very quickly in a school,” said District 6 Supervisor Matt Haney. “So let’s take a couple weeks where we don’t have school, and figure out what we need to do next.”
During the extended break all school campuses will be close and thoroughly cleaned, kid care programs shut down and any other student-related activities will be cancelled.
Matthews had forewarned parents that such a drastic step may be coming after the district announced Wednesday night that it was immediately closing Lakeshore Elementary School after learning from the Dept. of Public Health that four students from the school and some of their family members reported respiratory illness.
School Board President Mark Sanchez characterized the ill students as having pneumonia-like symptoms likely the result of the coronavirus.
Matthews said the decision to close the schools was a change in strategy.
“We have been in a reactive mode — the school by school closures are reactive,” he said. “We, the board, the staff determined to become preemptive. We know we need time to prepare for this new world that we are in right now.”
Additional information about the San Francisco Unified School District’s planned closure can be found on the district website.
The Archdiocese of San Francisco had already announced the closure of 90 schools in San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin counties on Tuesday. Those schools are set to reopen on March 26.
Meanwhile, the West Contra Costa County School District made a similar announcement Thursday evening. While Contra Costa Health Services said there have not been any confirmed cases of coronavirus among students or staff at any schools, the district has decided close all schools for the next three weeks, starting Monday, March 16.
School in the district is set to resume on Monday, April 6. In order to minimize disruption to the calendar, the district’s spring break is being moved up to the week of March 30.
Additionally, all students will be dismissed early at noon on Friday, March 13. Staff will work their normal schedules.
District officials acknowledged the burden of closing schools for a long duration and will try to provide as many services as possible during this time. Students will be expected to continue instruction through their laptops or tablets and meals will be available for students at selected schools during the closure.
Additional details regarding the closure will be released by the district on Friday, March 13 and made available online at the district’s website. Parents with questions can contact their school principal.
BERKELEY UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
Berkeley Unified School District is canceling classes for its high schools effective Friday and the rest of its schools starting on Monday because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Superintendent Brent Stephens said the earlier closure for the high schools is so their staff can work on options for students’ home learning programs. The schools are all tentatively set to reopen on April 6.
The district office will also be closed to the public during the next few weeks, although district staff will keep “essential operations” going including communications to the public, district officials said.
“I have been deeply touched by the overwhelming concern I hear in our community about protecting our most vulnerable individuals from the coronavirus,” Stephens wrote. “We hope that this step will support the regional effort to slow the spread of coronavirus in our area.”
DIOCESAN SCHOOLS IN SAN JOSE
The Diocese of San Jose announced it would close schools for two weeks, beginning Friday.
Starting Monday, students will be able to learn via distance learning plans that each school has developed.
“These measures we are taking not only protect our students, but also our neighbors” and others “who may be most vulnerable” to the virus, Bishop Oscar Cantu said in a statement.
The closure affects all planned in-person classes and school events, including sports, activities and community gatherings.
None of the school facilities will be open to parents or students during the closure.
As of Thursday, there were no confirmed cases of the virus in the diocese. Updates on the closure and additional guidance can be found at http://www.dsj.org/coronavirus
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