DAVIS UPDATE: DJUSD announced that, in consultation with both the Yolo County Health Department and legal counsel, the district will close its schools until at least April 12, beginning on Monday.
Superintendent John Bowes stated, “Today, in an effort to proactively slow the spread of COVID-19, I am announcing that all Davis Joint Unified Schools will be closed beginning Monday, March 16, through Sunday, April 12, 2020. Additionally, all events, extracurricular activities, athletics practices and competitions, and performances are cancelled during the closure.”
He added, “The Board of Education, senior staff and I met today in an emergency meeting to address this matter. In a unanimous vote, the Board adopted a motion which states, ‘In consultation with Yolo County Public Health Department and legal counsel, the Board of Education reaffirmed the Superintendent’s authority to effectuate school closures in light of COVID-19.’”
Board President Cindy Pickett said she strongly supported Superintendent Bowes’ decision to close schools temporarily.
She stated, “We have been diligently monitoring the COVID-19 situation, conferring with Yolo County Public Health Department and other partners. This is the right time for this decision. It is important to be proactive rather than reactive. It will help to save lives.”
Vice President, Joe DiNunzio offered, “The District is working under very difficult circumstances with changing facts by the day. While no known student or staff member in Davis Joint Unified School District has been diagnosed with COVID-19 as of today, we believe that the growing spread will likely result in more cases in Yolo County or possibly our school district. This decision by the Superintendent is the right call and supported by all Trustees.”
Trustee Bob Poppenga shared, “The decision to close schools for this duration is not taken lightly, but we need to do our part to support the public health recommendations to mitigate the community spread of COVID-19.”
Trustee Alan Fernandes stated, “Our top priority is always the health and safety of our students and staff. Our efforts to promote social distancing is an important start, and today’s action supports our greater community goal of protecting the most vulnerable.”
Trustee Tom Adams added, “We carefully considered the effects of closing schools and we continue to be committed to addressing the needs of students and their families who rely on schools for essential services.”
Superintendent Bowes added: “I want our DJUSD families to know that we recognize the significant impact this extended closure will have on our entire community, students, families, and on our staff. We acknowledge the anxiety this may cause our students, especially our high school seniors who are focused on graduation and those students who depend on DJUSD for important services, including school meals.”
EARLIER: The governor has left it up to local school districts as to what they are to do. Governor Newsom said on Wednesday that schools are “essential” and not included in the statewide ban on public gatherings.
But around Northern California many are closing their doors. San Francisco’s school district announced Thursday that all its campuses will close for three weeks. West Contra Costa and Berkeley have followed suit, while Palo Alto and Alameda said they will allow parents to keep children home but classes will continue.
The Bee reported that Sac City Unified will close its schools but only temporarily—Monday through Wednesday. This comes after news that a substitute teacher tested positive for COVID-19 less than two weeks after teaching for a day at an elementary school.
District officials are encouraging medically fragile students and staff to stay home Friday. Attendance is voluntary for everyone else.
The plan is to disinfect the campuses over the three days that they are closed.
On Monday, Yolo County issued a joint press release with Placer County on recommendations for schools.
- Schools that have a COVID-19 exposure or a case should make decisions about closing or other actions in collaboration with their local health department.
- Schools should also follow posted CDPH and California Department of Education joint guidance under Scenario II or higher, depending on circumstances.
- Schools should minimize students and/or staff working within arm’s length of each other whenever feasible
In a message from Superintendent John Bowes:
“We are operating in a changing landscape as we learn more information about the spread of the novel Coronavirus, also called COVID-19. Davis Joint Unified is not alone in trying to make the best decisions for our students and staff and how we can support public health efforts for our community and region as a whole. This matter is at the top of our minds as we share updates and evaluate our local situation on a daily basis. As a District team, we are working together to track the current situation, coordinate with the Yolo County Public Health Department and other partners and implement thoughtful and appropriate measures for our local situation.”
He notes: “These ‘social distancing’ recommendations are to save lives and slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community and to reduce the number of people infected, and especially protect those who are most vulnerable to this severe illness (specifically, older individuals and those with chronic health conditions). This is a critical moment in the growing outbreak of COVID-19 in our State, region, and county when such measures, if implemented properly, can help to slow the spread of this disease.”
At this point, Yolo County schools have not closed and it appears they will remain open for now.
There are certainly drawbacks to school closures, including what working families will do with their kids when childcare will be limited.
Some have criticized Yolo County for failing to cancel all public events rather than simply issuing recommendations.
Stay tuned as the situation seems to be changing very rapidly and most public health officials believe things will get much worse before they get better.