The Sacramento City Unified School District has said it will shut down for at least three days next week so that classrooms and common areas could be cleaned and disinfected, in hopes of preventing the spread of the coronavirus.
Superintendent Jorge Aguilar and the district’s school board announced their plan Thursday evening in a letter to parents. Schools will be closed from Monday, March 16 through Wednesday, March 18 — with an announcement coming Tuesday should the closure be extended.
The district said the time will be used “to conduct thorough disinfecting of all classrooms and implement protocols that are consistent with new Executive Orders issued by Governor Gavin Newsom in the past 24 hours, as well as guidelines from the California Department of Public Health, and the Centers for Disease Control.”
Schools will be open Friday, March 13 — an acknowledgment, perhaps, that some parents may struggle to find care for their children on such late notice. But the district invited families to keep their kids home tomorrow if they wish, saying that any absences that day would be considered “excused.” Sac City Unified is the third-largest district in the region, with around 47,000 students.
“We do not make the decision to close schools lightly, and we recognize the concerns and the difficulties that this decision may pose for families,” Aguilar said in the letter to parents.
Dr. Peter Beilenson, who heads the Sacramento County Department of Health Services, added that “temporarily closing schools district-wide in order to disinfect classrooms and plan new social distancing protocols will help with the mitigation effort.”
Sac City Unified said it would continue to offer breakfasts and lunches during the closure to students who receive meals through school nutrition programs “at locations throughout the district.”
Aguilar also signaled that the bar for additional closures will be high.
“We will resist a future district-wide closure of schools unless public health experts indicate that doing so will better protect the health and well being of students and the larger community than keeping our schools open and keeping healthy students in school,” he said in the letter to parents.
The district says it will use the three days during the closure to deep clean and disinfect all campuses, restock cleaning, hand washing and other classroom supplies, and establish new protocols for school events, field trips and other gatherings.
Elk Grove Unified, the largest district in the region with 64,000 students, did not announce Thursday whether it will reopen next week. The district moved its spring break up and canceled classes for this week after a family in the district tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend.
No San Juan Unified schools are closed, and the district says no students or staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. It's the second-largest district in the region with around 50,000 students.
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