BREAKING NEWS: Davis Schools to Close through APRIL 12 (UPDATED at 1:25)

John Bowes

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.

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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    1. Tia Will

      I am uncertain Alan. There seems to be some discrepancy in recommendations. Some schools are closing with one positive case, some are closing entire districts on one confirmed case. The problem is, as with any new disease, the uncertainty. No one knows the “right answer” and so there is speculation with best practice still to be defined. Unfortunately, it is often that the least well informed are the most certain they know the “right” answer. My concern is that they won’t be closed “soon enough” and will serve as agents of spread.


    2. Bill Marshall

      because they were not closed, soon enough.

      Facts not in evidence.  Time will tell…

      If the schools are closed, where are the students, and what contacts are they having?  If  DJUSD is using prudent measures at the schools, I’d argue students would be safer in schools, than where they may otherwise be… school age kids are less at risk for serious effects… but, running loose, they could be effective vectors ‘carriers’… this is not an example of “it’s for the kids”…

      Everyone should be using prudent measures… knee-jerk reactions are not helpful.  I humbly suggest schools should remain open, if for no other reason teaching students prudent precautions/behaviors…

  1. Keith Olsen

    All it takes is one student who had an uncle who knew someone who was around someone with  COVID 19 symptoms to close them all down.

    (So before everyone gets all worked up I’m being facetious)

        1. Hiram Jackson

          “So, don’t you think that’s a little overboard?”

          The problem is that it seems with this disease one can be a carrier for several days (a week+) and show no symptoms.  For others (older adults, those with compromised health already), this disease has higher fatality than the seasonal flu.  Another problem is that at the moment we don’t have the infrastructure for broad general testing the way South Korea is doing.

        2. Keith Olsen

          For others (older adults, those with compromised health already), this disease has higher fatality than the seasonal flu. 

          And children have a much higher fatality rate with the seasonal flu.  Are schools closing due to that?

          1. David Greenwald

            In isolation, you have a point. But when considered in totality, you’ve missed a huge flaw in your reasoning. Children themselves may not be at much risk – but in terms of their role in spreading the disease, they play a big one. Overall, the contagion rate is twice that of seasonal flu and the mortality rate is 10 to 34 times more.

        3. Keith Olsen

          For others (older adults, those with compromised health already), this disease has higher fatality than the seasonal flu. 

          Who do you think is going to now be watching those kids while mommy and daddy work?

          Grandma and grandpas…………….

        1. Keith Olsen

          It’s my understanding that school time lost to the Coronavirus doesn’t have to be made up.  Is that true or is it a district by district decision?

        2. Alan Miller

          KO — I was just contemplating that.  I believe there are minimum requirements to graduate, or attend many colleges.  I would think that would have to be an emergency declaration.  But I’m speculating . . .

        3. Bill Marshall


          H E double toothpicks, spot on… particularly when the poster added a smiley face…

          That poster has previously opined that we need to/should reduce, or at least contain population growth (or even population)…

          Keith O and Alan M… (1:37 and 3:59 posts, respectively)

          Good questions/comments… I’ll add, if ADA is reduced, with no extension of school year, will teachers/staff receive the same compensation as if nothing happened?  1 month of 10 reduction of work time (if no extension of instructional days)… 10% … will be interesting, to be sure.  Many levels.



          1. David Greenwald

            The governor signed an executive order giving schools full funding even if they close.

    1. David Greenwald

      Evidently they discussed the study, but the reality is that if they simply close the school for four weeks, they will see another peak, what they believe they need to do is keep the schools closed for a sufficient time until the infections have run their course. So when they say April, that’s the tip of the iceberg, it’s probably going to be the rest of the school year.

  2. Bill Marshall

    The governor signed an executive order giving schools full funding even if they close.

    Am assuming that means no extension of the school/instructional year… that would arguably equate to a ~ 10% bonus for the year for DJUSD teachers, staff (based on hours/days actually worked)… much better than Measure G, in the near term!  Assuming DJUSD folk don’t have to use any accumulated leave, of course…

    If I was Guv, I’d make it contingent on recapturing the instruction/staff work days… probably why I’ll never be the Guv… DTA/CTA other unions would work hard to prevent that…

      1. Bill Marshall

        That would be a mitigation… if followed thru on… do all students have access?  Do all teachers and staff have to support it at same level as they do with the ‘normal’ functions?

        I realize that may not be clear/known at this point… but down the road, I believe it should be…

        I could be convinced that it would be a true mitigation… but not with facts in hand… might just be words/spin…

    1. Bill Marshall

      I note the state teachers unions have strongly supported the closures, but have said nada about extending the school year to serve the students, nor the public… whatever… let them enjoy their ‘bonus’…

      Another benefit to DJUSD… if the closures of classrooms/offices is extended, no one could file for exemptions from current DJUSD taxes… a two-fer!

  3. Ron Glick

    I am glad they closed the schools. After the President overruled the CDC and brought the virus to Travis AFB we are much closer to the pandemic than perhaps many realize.

    With working from home we are now all hunkered down waiting to see how many are infected and hoping public health can get a handle on the community  spread. The kids are a huge distribution vector and mine will be close to home with limited contact. For once I’m thankful for social media allowing some distance interaction with friends as the boredom sets in. Being in a higher risk demographic and laying low myself the kid picking it up at school was a major worry.

    As for the gallows humor I find it morose at best. People are dying and more are likely to die. I personally don’t see the humor in that reality.

    1. Keith Olsen

      After the President overruled the CDC and brought the virus to Travis AFB we are much closer to the pandemic than perhaps many realize.

      What was the president supposed to do, leave American citizens in China indefinitely?  If he had you can bet he would’ve been criticized for that.  At least at Travis they’re being quarantined and watched over by CDC staff who are continually monitoring them for any signs of the virus.

  4. Ron Glick

    I guess I’m a Nimby on this. There must be other places that aren’t in the middle of a population center of millions. Islands are traditional places for quarantined populations; Molokai, Guantanamo Bay, Angel and Ellis Islands come to mind where people have been quarantined and sequestered historically. The US must have places suitable for the job.

    Overruling the CDC during a pandemic is only wise if you turn out to be correct.

  5. Ron Glick

    Isn’t Travis where people showed up to help that weren’t given protective gear? In a country as big as ours mistakes get made. Planning for Murphy’s Law mistakes is essential in a situation like this. Knowingly bringing infected people into California is either foolish or dumb, you decide. In this state we don’t even do that with fruit.

    1. Bill Marshall

      The other side of the coin, Ron G., is do we abandon those Americans working, or visiting abroad?  Leave them to their own devices?  At the discretion of the host nation… medical care overseas is “iffy”, both in level of care, and cost… many nations, including France, do not accept US insurance, and do not consider Americans as eligible for state-paid medical care… I know, as we had to max out our credit cards to get me discharged from a hospital there after an injury and surgery… spent hours to even get care, for a broken hip and great pain… unclear if we would have had the same experience had we purchased special ‘travel medical insurance’…

      I sympathize with those working, or visiting, overseas… with the recent travel bans, we cannot get Americans out of Italy… they are on “lock-down” and have seen no indication of what they may have to pay (food/lodging/medical) while they are there… not good…

      With the update from Keith O, Trump initially supported the abandonment…

      Your first question was spot on… not providing protective gear and/or protocols, that would be a big-time “stupid”…

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