Hundreds of public schools in six Bay Area counties, including in Santa Clara County, will remain closed through May 1, county health officers and superintendents of schools have decided.
Mountain View and Los Altos schools had been set to reopen after spring break in April, though that seemed increasingly unlikely as coronavirus cases continued to rise and Gov. Gavin Newsom indicated last week that campuses wouldn't likely reopen this academic year.
The new decision, which is not an official order from the county health departments but was agreed to by each county superintendent, affects schools in Santa Clara, San Mateo, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin and Alameda counties as well as the San Francisco Unified School District.
"The well-being of our students, families and communities is our primary concern. We will continue to take all necessary steps to prepare schools for reopening," said Mary Ann Dewan, Santa Clara County Superintendent of Schools. "Meanwhile, it is absolutely crucial that we work together to slow the spread of COVID-19, by adhering to the shelter-in-place orders and continuing to support learning at home."
San Mateo County Superintendent of Schools Nancy Magee said that "working together to address a virus that respects no boundaries is the right approach."
Across the six counties, school facilities can remain open to staff "for the purposes of performing tasks deemed essential by the school district and county offices of education," the announcement reads. "Education will continue through flexible learning, meals will continue to be provided and, where possible, childcare may be arranged."
The Mountain View Whisman School District announced it plans to continue to offer resources for students to continue learning from home as well as its drive-through daily meal program, which last week provided children with 2,600 prepared bags of lunch and breakfast in one day, according to Superintendent Ayinde Rudolph.
"These are difficult and uncertain times. We know many of our families are struggling with the effects of the necessary stay-at-home order, including physical and emotional wellness for themselves and their loved ones, childcare for those whose jobs are deemed essential, and security of jobs and housing," he said in an email announcement regarding the closure extension.
The district has also compiled a list of community resources for families listing where to go for housing support, legal aid, counseling and other needs while schools remain closed.
The Mountain View Los Altos High School District is continuing to implement its three-phase distance learning plan, said Superintendent Nellie Meyer in an email.
The first phase, intended to carry the district through Spring Break, started March 23, and so far, teachers have been creating videos, holding class conferences, and assigning projects, Meyer said. The second phase, which will begin after Spring Break, involves teachers introducing new materials according to their curricula, and the third phase will involve expanding teleconferencing and increasing academic rigor, according to the plan the district's board approved last week.
A major question remains about how courses will be graded this semester. The Palo Alto Unified School District announced Wednesday that it would be grading classes as credit or no credit for middle and high school students this semester. Meyer said the district was also considering that option but had not reached a final decision yet.
The district has still not reached a decision about end-of-year activities, she added.
"We recognize that students miss coming to campus and we hope that we can continue to maintain our strong sense of community despite the need to stay inside," Meyer said.
Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.