California health officials issue guidance for schools and colleges, as UC Berkeley also suspends in-person instruction
Elk Grove Unified School District cancels classes; an elementary student infected; recovering at home
MARCH 9, 2020
PHOTO: GABRIELLE LURIE/SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE/POLARIS
Monica G. wears a mask while walking through the UC Berkeley campus. A Berkeley resident with nothing to do with the campus recently tested positive to the coronavirus.
As the coronavirus spreads to more communities in California, California public health authorities have issued their first detailed guidance to K-12 schools as well as colleges and universities about how to respond to the coronavirus.
“It’s a question of when – not if – some California public schools will face closure because of COVID-19,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement accompanying the guidance issued on March 7. “School districts must prepare for these scenarios so that parents and children can plan for what would happen if their local school faced closure.”
In fact, his statement and the guidance were released just hours after the 64,000 student Elk Grove Unified, the state’s 5th largest district just outside Sacramento, had decided to close all of its 67 schools for at least the next week.
Officials Monday provided more details as to what had led to the closure. They said two members of a household in Elk Grove had tested positive to the virus, but that none of the four students in the household who attend two different schools in the district had tested positive. They also disclosed Monday that an elementary school student Maeola R. Beitzel Elementary School had tested positive for the virus.
In a joint statement issued late Monday, “The Sacramento County Public Health Department and Sacramento County Office of Education will be collaborating with the 13 District superintendents to develop recommendations to implement the new state and county mitigation guidelines within the next 48 hours.”
Although local control is a core principle of K-12 school governance, the guidance, issued jointly by the California Department of Public Health and the California Dept. of Education, raised questions about the extent to which school districts would make the decision to close schools, and to what degree they need to make the decisions in tandem with local health departments.
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