The San Ramon Valley Unified School District Board of Education has announced that it will be closing down all school sites starting Monday (March 16) through at least April 10 amid concerns about the potential spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Announced during the district’s special emergency board meeting on Friday, Superintendent Rick Schmitt asked for patience as district staff release details for supporting families and educating students over the proceeding closure, with communications planned for Friday night and through the following week.
“As the entire country is aware, we are in the middle of an unprecedented, extraordinary time and government agencies including school districts around the country are taking unprecedented action to keep families and staff safe,” Schmitt said at the meeting.
“I would also like to ask our community to be patient in these extraordinary times, to be careful, to give us time next week to establish process and procedures and really be able to define and organize a plan to help our students over the next few weeks,” he added.
While campuses will be closed for four weeks in total, officially Friday’s decision will close school sites for three weeks and continue through the district’s previously scheduled spring break holiday during the week of April 6.
While details are being hammered out with regards to potentially providing remote or online learning opportunities and supporting community members, Schmitt said that the district will aggressively work to inform the public of the district’s decision and each school site’s principal will be on campus Monday to alert any stragglers of the decision.
District officials did note that for students who qualify for the Federal Lunch Program, John Baldwin Elementary and Walt Disney Elementary will be staffed to serve lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. beginning on Monday, March 16.
Due to concerns over spreading COVID-19 and in an effort to promote the practice of “social distancing,” Friday’s meeting was live streamed on the district’s YouTube account -- which was viewed by more than 4,000 residents at the time of screening -- and closed to the public.
Residents were allowed to digitally submit comment cards prior to the start of the meeting, however individuals were not welcome to attend comment in person during the open-session portion of the meeting, with SRVUSD officials citing Gov. Gavin Newsom's executive order on coronavirus suspending certain Brown Act requirements in an effort to prevent large gatherings according to district officials.
While comment cards were not read out loud during the meeting, Board President Greg Marvel said the district received nine comment cards requesting the district close schools, two recommending that they remain open and two providing input on how the district could close schools.
“I hope we take this as an opportunity for a community to come together, to work together both as a staff, as taxpayers, as community members as just caring individuals in a really difficult time. A lot of anxious folks out there (and) I see that our role as trustees and staff is to support you and help you,” Schmitt said toward the end of the livestream.
SRVUSD’s coronavirus response plan is aligned closely with the other public school districts in the Tri-Valley -- each of which was confirmed at individual school board meetings on Friday, with the exception of Pleasanton, which amended its plan over the weekend. Catholic schools in the Tri-Valley are also being closed in the short-term under diocese orders.
Pleasanton Unified School District
PUSD’s plan for reducing the risk of exposure to COVID-19 by dismissing students from campus for the next month began unfolding publicly on Friday with an “unprecedented” emergency meeting at which the Board of Trustees unanimously declared a state of emergency and supported closing campuses to students in favor of a schooling-at-home strategy.
Most attendees that spoke during the public comment portion supported the decision for a dismissal, calling it “critical” to move on mitigating the virus and flattening the epidemic curve, a statistical chart that illustrates when and how quickly new cases are reported.
The board ultimately endorsed the proposal to dismiss students from campus from Tuesday (March 17) through at least April 13 -- a period that would include two weeks of remote lessons for students as well as the district’s spring break as originally scheduled.
The original idea was to allow students the option to report to school on Monday for a final day of in-class instruction before the four-week dismissal. (Every PUSD school had been closed on Friday for a prescheduled student non-attendance and teacher non-work day.)
But Haglund decided on Sunday to switch course and cancel classes on Monday too, in the interest of safety and to reduce risk of exposure.
“Our original plan was to bring students to their schools on Monday; However, a few things have happened since Friday midday that have shifted our thinking,” Haglund said in a message to the PUSD community.
He specifically cited the city of Pleasanton’s decision late in the day Friday to close all non-essential city facilities such as the joint-use gyms at PUSD middle schools, an increase by Saturday of the number of school districts halting in-person classes starting on Monday, and a continued uptick of confirmed coronavirus cases in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.
“Thank you for your help and support as we work through this challenging and complex situation together,” Haglund said to end his letter.
So PUSD’s current plan involves students being out of school all of this week (March 16-20) while teachers "receive professional development and learn about delivering flexible instruction" and the process of checking out devices begins. The district encourages students to consider “independent learning activities at home” during this week.
The two weeks after -- March 23 through April 3 -- flexible instruction and remote learning will start, with teachers providing daily instruction and feedback. Spring break will take place as planned April 6-13, during which time there will be no instruction.
Flexible instruction and remote learning will start again April 14, with no end date determined yet, unless and until otherwise notified by Alameda County Public Health Department that reopening is safe.
Students in need of a Chromebook or WiFi hotspot to access remote learning materials can request a device and technology support through the district website. An email will be sent to students once their devices are ready for pickup at the district office, 4665 Bernal Ave. Distribution is scheduled to begin March 17.
“In the days and weeks ahead, please feel free to reach out to your school's administration for specific direction relating to ongoing student learning and support,” Haglund said.
All PUSD school sites and the district headquarters on Bernal Avenue are scheduled to remain open to the public during the entire dismissal period, including staff to answer phone calls. All employees were scheduled to report to their regular workplaces on Monday.
PUSD said on Friday it would soon announce the status of its other impacted programs, including special education, Horizon Early Education, STEAM Preschool, Kids Club and iPals Preschool.
The district will also offer meals at no cost to students who want to participate during the dismissal period. All meals will be grab-and-go style; seating will not be offered. Starting Monday, families can go to the district website to review the menu and preorder meals.
Meal pickup will be available at the following locations:
* Pleasanton Middle School (breakfast 7:30-8:30 a.m.; lunch 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.)
* Valley View Elementary School (breakfast 7:30-8:30 a.m.; lunch 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.)
* Lydiksen Elementary School (breakfast 7:30-8:30 a.m.; lunch 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.)
* Alisal Elementary School (breakfast 7:30-8:30 a.m.; lunch 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.).
Follow updates on all coronavirus-related impacts at www.pleasantonusd.net.
Dublin Unified School District
DUSD Superintendent Dave Marken announced that he made the decision to “suspend classes beginning on Monday, March 16, 2020 through Friday, April 10, 2020, with classes resuming on Monday, April 13, 2020.”
The Board of Trustees made a unanimous advisory vote during a special emergency meeting on Friday during the same time PUSD held theirs. District offices will also be closed to the public and will not receive phone calls or in-person visits.
Dublin teachers will share lesson plans with families and students will be expected to complete assignments while campuses are closed.
“Because we are in uncharted territory, this process will likely include some speedbumps and we ask for your patience as we navigate this journey together. We understand that nothing can replace the interaction between students and instructional staff in the classroom,” Marken said.
“We’d like to make it clear -- do not, under any circumstances, expect individual learning plans for each and every one of our over 12,900 students,” he added.
DUSD students currently receiving meal assistance will still have access to a “grab and go” bagged breakfast and lunch during the suspension period, including over spring break.
Meals will be available at Dublin High School, 8151 Village Pkwy., and Cottonwood Creek Elementary, 2400 Central Pkwy. from 7-9 a.m. for breakfast and 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for lunch. Meals will be available but seating will not be offered at either site. Families can review the menu and pre-order meals on the DUSD website this week. Those who need meal assistance can apply at https://www.myschoolapps.com/Application at least 48 hours before they plan to receive breakfast and lunch.
DUSD is also “finalizing a plan to allow students to borrow a Chromebook and/or wireless Internet access point so that they may continue to have access to online curricular resources for the duration of the suspension of regular school activities.”
The devices will be checked out and returned “in a similar fashion to a library book.” Details about the program will be available soon, according to the district.
For more information, visit www.dublin.k12.ca.us.
Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District
LVJUSD also held an emergency board meeting on Friday afternoon and voted to dismiss their schools beginning Monday into mid-April.
“Acting in the best interest of the health and safety of our students, staff, families, and community, our Board of Education, at the recommendation of our superintendent, Dr. Kelly Bowers, voted unanimously to dismiss schools, beginning Monday, March 16, 2020 through Friday, April 3, 2020,” the district said on its website. “We expect to resume in-class learning at our schools on Tuesday, April 14, 2020, following our regularly scheduled Spring Break (April 6 - 13, 2020).”
Flexible learning opportunities that can be accessed from home will also be available for LVJUSD students during the suspension period; an email with more information will be sent to families this week.
Philomena Rambo, district director of community engagement, said their child nutrition services department “will offer all children aged 18 and younger free meal pick-up service at East Avenue Middle School (3951 East Ave.), Junction Avenue K-8 School (298 Junction Ave.) and Marylin Avenue Elementary School (800 Marylin Ave.). We will offer delivery from the inside (center) of the drop off loop from 12:00 - 1:00 p.m. Monday - Friday, March 16 - April 3. Each child will receive a breakfast and lunch.”
To learn more, visit livermoreschools.org.
Local Catholic schools
All schools within the Diocese of Oakland, which includes the Tri-Valley, are also being closed in response to coronavirus prevention -- though the diocese noted that as of Friday no faculty, staff or student in the diocesan schools had tested positive for COVID-19, according to Bay City News Service.
The plan, as of Friday, was to institute a two-week closure that begins on Wednesday (March 18) and continues until normal operations resume on April 1. Adjustments will be made as deemed necessary, officials told Bay City News Service.
That closure list includes Catholic schools in the Tri-Valley, which fall under the Diocese of Oakland -- St. Raymond School in Dublin, St. Michael School in Livermore and St. Isidore School in Danville.
Monday is a school holiday for the diocese, but students are scheduled to report to school on Tuesday -- unless ill -- for final in-classes lessons and to prepare for at-home instruction that will continue during the closure period.
To learn more, contact the individual school.
Editor’s note: DanvilleSanRamon.com is also working to confirm school impacts on other private institutions in the Tri-Valley. If you have verified information, contact editor Jeremy Walsh at [email protected]
Minimize your risk
Health experts strongly recommend the public follows these steps to minimize their risk of COVID-19 transmission:
* Wash hands with liquid soap and water and rub for at least 20 seconds;
* Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing;
* Refrain from touching your eyes, nose and mouth;
* Stay home when you are sick; and
* Get a flu shot to protect yourself and others from the flu, which has similar symptoms to COVID19.
People who are healthy do not need to use a facemask to protect themselves from COVID-19. A face mask is recommended for those who are coughing or sneezing to protect others from getting sick.
ACPHD has a webpage dedicated to updates, advice and information about COVID-19 at http://acphd.org/2019-ncov.aspx.