In wake of COVID-19, Mountain View and Los Altos schools to shutter for the next month | News | Mountain View Online |


In wake of COVID-19, Mountain View and Los Altos schools to shutter for the next month

CSMA also announces temporary closure

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All schools in Santa Clara County will be closed for the next three weeks starting Monday, according to a new mandate issued Friday by the Santa Clara County Office of Education.

Because public schools in Mountain View and Los Altos have spring breaks scheduled April 6 through 10, local school closures are set to extend an additional week beyond that.

The Santa Clara County Public Health Department announcement came minutes after the rapid mobilization of the three local school boards representing the Mountain View Los Altos High School District, the Mountain View Whisman School District and the Los Altos School District to authorize their respective superintendents to close schools independently.

At a last-minute emergency 9 a.m. meeting Friday, the high school district board voted unanimously to permit the district's high schools to close for two, and possibly three weeks, at Superintendent Nellie Meyer's discretion. Within less than an hour, both the Mountain View Whisman and the Los Altos school districts had set 11 a.m. meetings to consider similar school closure policies.

The Mountain View Whisman School District board voted unanimously at an emergency meeting Friday to give Superintendent Ayinde Rudolph authority to close the district's schools.

The county's new mandate, however, takes precedence over those actions.

Bullis Charter School in Los Altos will also be closing on Monday in compliance with the new mandate.

The Community School of Music and Arts, or CSMA as it is widely known, announced it would also be closing from March 14 through April 3. The closure is in response to the county's guidance and not because of any known exposure to COVID-19, according to an update on the school's website. The school's music theory and composition classes will continue to be offered online, while preschool music classes will be postponed, and the rest of the school's offerings will be suspended.

“As the largest community school of music and arts in our area, we take very seriously our responsibilities to our students, faculty, staff and patrons. The health and safety of all are our primary concerns, and we are following the guidance of state and county health officials in taking this step,” said CSMA's Executive Director Vickie Scott Grove in the statement.

The plan to shut down schools countywide was made after "extensive consultation" with the Santa Clara County Public Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, county Superintendent of Schools Mary Ann Dewan said at a press conference Friday.

"The decision to close schools to student attendance is a serious matter," she said. "Schools play an essential role in our society and returning to normal operations promotes continuity. The safety and well-being of our students and staff are our top priority."

Public Health Officer Sara Cody said that the county's new restrictions reflect an effort to balance "the public health need to slow the spread of infection with a significant impact we know these actions will have on the lives of our residents.

"We believe these actions are necessary to protect the well-being of our community during one of the most historic public health challenges of our time," she said.

Santa Clara County now has 79 confirmed cases of COVID-19, a number Cody said she expects will grow in the days and weeks to come.

The county Office of Education added that schools should do all they can to continue to offer free and reduced-price breakfast and lunch to eligible students; offer academic instruction to students at home, including to those without internet access, computers or school supplies; offer parent resources to help students; and provide families with resources about emergency child care, especially families in which parents are health care providers or are providing essential services to the community.

Here's what the districts have so far made public about their plans to offer these services.

Mountain View Los Altos High School District

The high school district plans to work with the Mountain View Whisman School District to support students who rely on the school for breakfast and lunch and will be providing families with additional information, according to a letter from the district's board of trustees and superintendent that went out by email to the district.

The district is also working with internet providers like Comcast to offer free Wi-Fi hotspots for students who may lack internet at home for 60 days, and will be increasing internet speeds for existing students who use Comcast's Internet Essentials plan for low-income families for free. Students who need a device or internet access should contact their schools immediately.

Teachers will continue to be in contact with students about their teaching plans and expectations.

Additional updates from the district will be available online here.

Mountain View Whisman School District

In an email the Mountain View Whisman School District sent out to families, Rudolph offered some additional details.

Salaried and hourly workers, including contractors, will continue to be paid. Only a few essential staff members will be required to report to work. Before and after-school care and the district's preschool services will be closed from Monday, March 16, to April 10.

The district's food truck will serve meals to children under 18 near the Castro and Mistral elementary school campuses. Students will be provided grade-level packets with student work during the closure. Families can also access online learning resources at

The district will provide Comcast credits offering temporary free internet of up to five months to families without internet access, with priority for students at Castro, Mistral and Monta Loma schools, and will distribute Chromebooks to students who need them. Updates will be provided at

Los Altos School District

The Los Altos School District said that it will be working with the other two districts to distribute food and share community resources in a memo posted to the district's website by Superintendent Jeff Baier.

Early next week, parents will receive instructions and a "road map" to start remote learning. Students who don't have Wi-Fi should let their school know immediately. Comcast offers an "Internet Essentials" plan to low-income families at no cost for 60 days and will increase existing speeds.

"Students should stay home and minimize social contact as much as possible to keep caregivers and adult family members safe," he said. In addition, families should make child care arrangements to avoid leaving kids with elderly people who are more vulnerable to serious illness.

Further restrictions on gatherings

Beyond school closures, the county's public health department also ordered a legal prohibition on gatherings of more than 100 people and banned gatherings of 35 to 100 people unless certain conditions are met, and defined a "gathering" as "any event or convening that brings together people in a single room or single space at the same time, such as an auditorium, stadium, arena, conference room, meeting hall, cafeteria, theater, restaurant, bar, or any other confined indoor or confined outdoor space."

It doesn't include airports or transit, nor does it include offices, classrooms, medical offices, hospitals, clinics, retail, pharmacies or grocery stores, where many people may be present but are usually spread out.

Access the full guidance here.

Elena Kadvany contributed to this report.

Correction: A previous version of this story inaccurately reported that the Mountain View Whisman School District board voted 4-0 to authorize school closures with member Ellen Wheeler absent. The vote was unanimous – Wheeler called into the meeting and voted over the phone.

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5 people like this
Posted by Status?
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Mar 13, 2020 at 12:10 pm

Headline on Palo Alto Online says Santa Clara County Public Health are closing all schools in the county for one month. Should this article be updated?

10 people like this
Posted by Kate Bradshaw
a resident of another community
on Mar 13, 2020 at 12:19 pm

In short- yes. Three local school boards met this morning to vote on closing schools, followed by the county's announcement. Stay tuned.

7 people like this
Posted by It's the money honey
a resident of North Whisman
on Mar 13, 2020 at 5:57 pm

I hear that the high school district does NOT receive money from the state based on attendance. So, sure, why not close? The Mtn. View-Whisman District DOES receive money based on attendance. So figure they will resist closing. But if they can get money for online schooling, watch for that.

13 people like this
Posted by @ It's The money honey
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2020 at 8:38 pm

All three districts are basic aid. All three closed in unison. Next time get your facts right before you post.

6 people like this
Posted by It's the money honey
a resident of North Whisman
on Mar 13, 2020 at 8:54 pm

I see you are right. Basic aid districts get basic aid plus locally generated property tax and do not need students to attend. No wonder they all voted to close. Got it.

7 people like this
Posted by protective dad
a resident of Rex Manor
on Mar 14, 2020 at 4:49 am

iIt’s NOT the money, it’s exponential growth. SCC cases doubling every 3.5 days.

4 people like this
Posted by It's the money honey
a resident of North Whisman
on Mar 14, 2020 at 5:00 am

The school operators knew that the virus had spread around the world and into Santa Clara County weeks ago. Can you imagine a school district admitting school can be safely and effectively conducted online before a school bond election?

7 people like this
Posted by Protective Dad
a resident of Rex Manor
on Mar 14, 2020 at 5:22 am

Get off your single-issue soapbox and do the math. That’s a factor of 1000 every 5 weeks. Silicon valley gets it. Flatten the curve.

COVID-19 cases in SCC:

T2 = (t1-t0) Log 2 / Log (N1/N0)
T10 = 3.322 T2

2020- Cases T2 (days)
0308 24
0310 43 2.38
0311 48 3.00
0312 66 3.24
0313 79 3.42

7 people like this
Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 14, 2020 at 11:07 am

It is good that the MVWSD Superintendent knows that 200 students have been without internet access so far this year. (It was as high as 600 when we first measured it during my Trustee term in 2015, Voice Article on Jon Acher's survey].

Why the heck have there NOT BEEEN these Digital Divide steps (checkout Chromebooks and free home internet) for these 200 families BEFORE! Rudolph, get your rear in gear on this Issue! It is way past the time that PTA donations should fund Digital Education (at-home) access like the quarter million dollar iReady program. FREE PUBLIC EDUCATION - including supplementary instructional materials Dr. Dude! That is the California Constitution's mandate.

It is not your "choice". Write the DARN checks. Get it done for K-5th!
{checkout middle schooler books have been done for years now}

[ref. 2014 MVLA "the school district recently purchased 800 new Chromebooks for students ... to use"]

4 people like this
Posted by It's the money honey
a resident of North Whisman
on Mar 14, 2020 at 11:34 am

Note the school boards voted only to give their superintendents the authority to close schools. The county closed them. But evidently that the authority for the superintendents to close schools was enough to get some self-labeled "Protective Dad" to defend the delay. But hey, "Protective Dad," who should decide when the schools re-open? And if you are a dad of a public school student or students, tell us what you are now doing for safety and education of him, her or them.

7 people like this
Posted by MV Resident
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 14, 2020 at 3:48 pm

@ItsTheMoneyHoney: Nice conspiracy theories there about school finances. Now you want to take it out on a school parent? Classy.

@SteveNelson: You’re splitting hairs on a press statement to score political points. I think you heard the response to your rant about access at a recent school board meeting, where the Superintendent refuted your claims with facts including programs put in place while you were a school board member. Also you really need to revisit your premises about access for parents, because we are a mobile-first society now and the first point of access for many is a smartphone (Kudos to MVWSD for having a decent mobile site)... if you’re going to do research here, look at broadband access on any device - I think you’d be amazed at how much access in socio-economically disadvantaged communities starts with the mobile phone and how much it takes priority over other needs that we might consider basic. Then go bang on Verizon and AT&Ts doors and see what they can do to help.

4 people like this
Posted by It's the money honey
a resident of Stierlin Estates
on Mar 14, 2020 at 8:51 pm

@MV Resident. The school boards did not vote to close. Superintendents did not decide to close. Order from county. Read that part? The anonymous "protective dad" is not likely a parent. More likely a school administrator. Classy.

13 people like this
Posted by MV Resident
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 14, 2020 at 11:07 pm

@ItsTheMoneyHoney: so you want to assert that the board is somehow inept because they made a call on the closure process a few hours before the county did, and actually followed protocol in assigning authority? I think you have a different agenda than protecting the kids of this district, so save it for November and we’ll see how you do. Cheers.

3 people like this
Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 15, 2020 at 12:11 pm

@MV Resident: I heard Superintendent Rudolph's reply to my last Public Comment (Regular Board Meeting). It was IMO totally unsatisfactory - sort of like Trump's "I have NO Responsibility" - go back over the video recording of his comments!

I have not done a Public Records Request on MVWSD's last survey/study/report on internet disconnected students (families). Have YOU? What is the link? It is just (IMO) asinine to suggest that private company charity, or PTA charity, should drive Public School Kid Access to the Internet RESOURCES of the MVWSD at home. [BTY COMCAST has offered this charity - but surely many of those 200 student families DO NOT HAVE THE EXPERTISE TO CONNECT TO THIS TECHNICAL RESOURCE AND GIT IT DONE! (capitals for emphasis - not shouting)

Parent smart-phone instead of student Chromebook (set up by the District). Surely you jest! There have been elementary principal(s) (the best) in MVWSD who have literally gone into student homes - earlier this year - to help some families test and get actually going on CLEAR, iReady and the other MVWSD taxpayer provided digital-learning materials. -@MV Resident - You IMO obviously do not know or have experience in helping poor students get connected and USE / BENEFIT from these at-home learning tools.

I hope people ignore You on this (particular) item ... BUT I agree with you on the MVWSD going 'with the county public health officer' protocol system. The MVWSD Administration followed their (2015) adopted protocol which had been extensively worked out by the County before hand. They did not (IMO) shoot from the hip, stall, or cancel tens of thousands of instructional days without weighing the alternatives.

5 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2020 at 1:53 pm

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]

2 people like this
Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2020 at 3:38 pm

@Parent (another neighborhood) -that's fine -
I pushed for and got the County Health Dept./Officer recommended draft school pandemic plan Legislatively Adopted as Public Policy when I was serving on the Board. I didn't write that Safety Plan. I didn't modify the Safety Plan. (and I won't ask for credit on that / not an "I invented the Internet" moment - Senator Al Gore) [see his Wikipedia link]*

But like Senator Gore, I was a legislator who pushed for the adoption of such public policy, and eventually was able to Vote on it's unanimous adoption by the MVWSD Board. :-)

* ref. The House Science and Technology Comm. and the Atari Democrats and the quotes from Vine Cert and Bob Kahn.

4 people like this
Posted by It's the money honey
a resident of Stierlin Estates
on Mar 16, 2020 at 3:54 pm

Now that others have made decisions school board members did not, we shall see how this works out. School closures and alternative learning may prove we do not need public schools as now operated.

Like this comment
Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 16, 2020 at 4:27 pm

@It's... - and so you think this is a good experimental setup? Some 'accidental' variables for a good pseudo-random trial THAT YOU WOULD CHANGE YOUR OPINION AFTER?

I somehow very much doubt that! If some metric for "we do not need" and some statistical criteria for "prove" (before the results are in by year_end academic testing) were proposed, I would not be surprised if ex post facto you rejected them if your "proof" evaporated. Good old @Protective Dad demonstrated a little of the type of mathematical modeling "proof" / or "reasoning" we expect in this community.

2 people like this
Posted by It's the money honey
a resident of Stierlin Estates
on Mar 16, 2020 at 5:17 pm

Online classes. No getting sick from others. No carrying viruses to old, former school board members. No transportation woes. No finding after-school programs or providers. Who could have ever imagined such a thing when you were on the elementary school board? Not you - it appears.

1 person likes this
Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 17, 2020 at 2:25 pm

I've been around the Internet since I was on the Research Staff of Xerox PARC in 1985 - and ALTOS were running some of the net switching load of our research center. {senior-thanks for the anti-virus thoughts!)

Here is some good new local research on Silicon Valley use of iReady for math in 7th grade.
Web Link

iRead's been adopted for on-line use, both testing, classroom instructional supplement, and home review and work in MVWSD schools throughout the district this year. (rollout yr. it seems for instruction / but used for several years now in formative -partial_year - assessments in Language and Math).

[dystopian reality alert - it can lead to EQUITY problems when not implemented well / for instance GREAT SCHOOLS correctly finds Graham MS at 3/10 on it's Equity scale / which MVWSD administration continues to deliberately and deceptively obfuscate] read the research paper!

APPLES FOR (in) SCHOOLS (yes?) I hope you know of the LA USD's botched billion dollar bungle of that idea. There are many other instances of such failures. MVWSD did have an interesting small (unfortunately unnoticed) successful trial of KAHN ACADEMY free algebra curriculum and practice tools [Mr. Derek Mulkey@ Graham about 7-8 years ago]

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