SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Students in six San Francisco Bay Area counties will finish the academic year taking instructions remotely from home after officials shuttered access to school campuses into the summer months.

In a joint statement released Tuesday, public education leaders in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Mateo, Santa Clara and San Francisco county announced they were extending campus closures through the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.

“I want to be clear — the 2019-2020 school year has not ended,” said San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews. “Learning will continue to the greatest extent possible through both digital and non-digital interactive teacher-led learning.”

That message was echoed by Lynn Mackey, Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools.

“While we all pivot into a new way of delivering quality instruction, we know that learning will continue, and that every educator and caring staff member in our county will meet this challenge and continue to work hard on behalf of the students and families we serve,” Mackey said.

After jointly announcing campuses would remain closed for in-person learning through May 1, Bay Area counties reviewed their closure timelines following statements by Gov. Gavin Newsom and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond suggesting that California’s students would not likely be able to return to campus for in-person learning for the remainder of this school year.

“Extending school dismissals in Alameda County is a serious decision, but our hope is that it gives our communities additional time to slow the spread of COVID-19,” said Dr. Erica Pan, Alameda County’s interim health officer. “As our schools plan and develop ways to continue education in the future while maintaining health and safety, we know this places a greater burden on families.”

Currently, the San Francisco Bay Area and the entire state of California was under a shelter in place order until early May. One of the main tenets of the order is the requirement for social distancing and prohibits on public gatherings.

“We know that social distancing is the most powerful weapon in slowing the spread of COVID-19,” said Dr. Chris Farnitano, health officer for Contra Costa County. “As hard as it is to extend school closures, we know that it is critical to protecting the health and safety of all residents of Contra Costa County and the Bay Area in general. We appreciate the opportunity to work closely with our school leaders as we adapt to this changing situation.”

Building on the regional coordination the six Bay Area jurisdictions took in issuing the order for all residents to shelter in place, Bay Area counties have continued to work together to align strategies and practices in support of Bay Area schools during this unprecedented time.

“This public health crisis is unlike anything we have faced in public education,” said L. Karen Monroe, Alameda County Superintendent of Schools. “I am proud that the public health officers and county superintendents have been able to come together to determine what is in the best interest of our students and their families.”

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