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'It's a question of when – not if – some California public schools will face closure.' State issues coronavirus guidance for schools, universities

Palo Alto Unified releases updated local guidance

California health leaders have released new guidance for school districts, colleges and universities on how to respond to COVID-19, including preparing for potential school closures.

"It's a question of when — not if — some California public schools will face closure because of COVID-19," said Gov. Gavin Newsom, who declared a state of emergency in California last week. "School districts must prepare for these scenarios so that parents and children can plan for what would happen if their local school faced closure."

The Palo Alto school district issued additional local guidance on the new coronavirus Monday evening. The precautions include canceling all school dances, including prom, all field trips and other large school events with more than 100 people.

The Santa Clara County Public Health Department confirmed five new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, March 8, bringing the countywide total of confirmed cases to 37. Four new cases announced on Friday are not related to each other, according to the county. And on Monday, the county announced the first death from the coronavirus, an adult woman in her 60s without any known history of international travel or contact with a traveler or infected person, "suggesting she contracted COVID-19 in our community."

If a local public health department has confirmed two or more community transmission cases but no staff or students at a school have tested positive for COVID-19, the state Department of Public Health is recommending schools limit visitors; consider alternatives to large group events, such as assemblies; stagger recess time to limit the number of students who are together; and consider relaxing requirements for a doctor's note for students to come back to school after an illness.

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Under this scenario, the state suggests not allowing anyone with symptoms of fever and/or respiratory infection or who have traveled in the last two weeks to an area identified as a level 3 travel health notice (avoiding all nonessential travel) to come to schools. Teachers and staff with any symptoms should not come to work and others should self-screen daily, including checking for fever or cough, before interacting with students, the state said. Districts should ensure sick leave policies to allow teachers and staff with symptoms to stay home.

If a single student, teacher or staff member tests positive for the new coronavirus and exposed others at school, public health officials suggest schools consult with their local public health departments to determine whether a school closure is warranted and for how long, "based on the risk level within the specific community as determined by the local public health officer." Schools should consider developing a plan for how to continue educating students, as well as to provide meal plans and medical and social services.

In this scenario, schools should remind parents, teachers and staff "of the importance of community social distancing measures while school is closed, including discouraging students or staff from gathering elsewhere," the guidance reads. Other measures include canceling group activities or events, religious services, after-school classes and athletic events.

Schools should also develop communication plans and send information to parents and staff about labor laws, paid family leave, disability insurance and unemployment insurance, the state said. (The California Employee Development Department is encouraging people who are unable to work due to exposure to COVID-19 to file a disability insurance claim.)

Before reopening a campus, school administrators should review Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to determine if additional cleaning protocols should be implemented.

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In the most extreme scenario — multiple schools within a school district have a student, teacher or staff member test positive for the new coronavirus — administrators should consult with local public health officials to decide whether additional school closures are necessary.

"Closing schools is a difficult decision as it has impacts on families and employers," the guidance reads. "The state will continue to assess the situation and provide information as needed."

State education and health leaders also urged "schools to ensure students' and staffs' privacy to help prevent discrimination or unnecessary stigmatization."

The Department of Public Health issued similar guidance for colleges and universities. Additional recommendations for higher-education institutions include immediately contacting their local public health department if administrators notice "concerning clusters of respiratory disease or spikes in absenteeism," and isolation guidelines for students, teachers or staff who test positive for COVID-19.

If more than five students, faculty or staff at a college or university test positive, administrators should work with local public officials on whether to close the campus.

At Stanford University, which moved all in-person classes online starting Monday, a School of Medicine faculty member has tested positive for the new coronavirus and two undergraduate students were in self-isolation this weekend after possible exposure. On Sunday, the university announced that it was not aware of any Stanford students who have tested positive for the new coronavirus.

Public health officials continue to remind schools and the broader public of the precautions anyone should take to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, including washing hands frequently; covering sneezes or coughs; avoiding touching eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands; staying home when sick; and seeking immediate medical care if symptoms become more severe.

Read the state's full guidance for schools here and college and universities, here.

Read our latest updates on local coronavirus cases here.

Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by the Almanac, Mountain View Voice and Palo Alto Online here.

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'It's a question of when – not if – some California public schools will face closure.' State issues coronavirus guidance for schools, universities

Palo Alto Unified releases updated local guidance

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Mon, Mar 9, 2020, 9:10 am
Updated: Mon, Mar 9, 2020, 6:30 pm

California health leaders have released new guidance for school districts, colleges and universities on how to respond to COVID-19, including preparing for potential school closures.

"It's a question of when — not if — some California public schools will face closure because of COVID-19," said Gov. Gavin Newsom, who declared a state of emergency in California last week. "School districts must prepare for these scenarios so that parents and children can plan for what would happen if their local school faced closure."

The Palo Alto school district issued additional local guidance on the new coronavirus Monday evening. The precautions include canceling all school dances, including prom, all field trips and other large school events with more than 100 people.

The Santa Clara County Public Health Department confirmed five new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, March 8, bringing the countywide total of confirmed cases to 37. Four new cases announced on Friday are not related to each other, according to the county. And on Monday, the county announced the first death from the coronavirus, an adult woman in her 60s without any known history of international travel or contact with a traveler or infected person, "suggesting she contracted COVID-19 in our community."

If a local public health department has confirmed two or more community transmission cases but no staff or students at a school have tested positive for COVID-19, the state Department of Public Health is recommending schools limit visitors; consider alternatives to large group events, such as assemblies; stagger recess time to limit the number of students who are together; and consider relaxing requirements for a doctor's note for students to come back to school after an illness.

Under this scenario, the state suggests not allowing anyone with symptoms of fever and/or respiratory infection or who have traveled in the last two weeks to an area identified as a level 3 travel health notice (avoiding all nonessential travel) to come to schools. Teachers and staff with any symptoms should not come to work and others should self-screen daily, including checking for fever or cough, before interacting with students, the state said. Districts should ensure sick leave policies to allow teachers and staff with symptoms to stay home.

If a single student, teacher or staff member tests positive for the new coronavirus and exposed others at school, public health officials suggest schools consult with their local public health departments to determine whether a school closure is warranted and for how long, "based on the risk level within the specific community as determined by the local public health officer." Schools should consider developing a plan for how to continue educating students, as well as to provide meal plans and medical and social services.

In this scenario, schools should remind parents, teachers and staff "of the importance of community social distancing measures while school is closed, including discouraging students or staff from gathering elsewhere," the guidance reads. Other measures include canceling group activities or events, religious services, after-school classes and athletic events.

Schools should also develop communication plans and send information to parents and staff about labor laws, paid family leave, disability insurance and unemployment insurance, the state said. (The California Employee Development Department is encouraging people who are unable to work due to exposure to COVID-19 to file a disability insurance claim.)

Before reopening a campus, school administrators should review Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to determine if additional cleaning protocols should be implemented.

In the most extreme scenario — multiple schools within a school district have a student, teacher or staff member test positive for the new coronavirus — administrators should consult with local public health officials to decide whether additional school closures are necessary.

"Closing schools is a difficult decision as it has impacts on families and employers," the guidance reads. "The state will continue to assess the situation and provide information as needed."

State education and health leaders also urged "schools to ensure students' and staffs' privacy to help prevent discrimination or unnecessary stigmatization."

The Department of Public Health issued similar guidance for colleges and universities. Additional recommendations for higher-education institutions include immediately contacting their local public health department if administrators notice "concerning clusters of respiratory disease or spikes in absenteeism," and isolation guidelines for students, teachers or staff who test positive for COVID-19.

If more than five students, faculty or staff at a college or university test positive, administrators should work with local public officials on whether to close the campus.

At Stanford University, which moved all in-person classes online starting Monday, a School of Medicine faculty member has tested positive for the new coronavirus and two undergraduate students were in self-isolation this weekend after possible exposure. On Sunday, the university announced that it was not aware of any Stanford students who have tested positive for the new coronavirus.

Public health officials continue to remind schools and the broader public of the precautions anyone should take to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, including washing hands frequently; covering sneezes or coughs; avoiding touching eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands; staying home when sick; and seeking immediate medical care if symptoms become more severe.

Read the state's full guidance for schools here and college and universities, here.

Read our latest updates on local coronavirus cases here.

Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by the Almanac, Mountain View Voice and Palo Alto Online here.

Comments

parent
Fairmeadow
on Mar 9, 2020 at 12:51 pm
parent, Fairmeadow
on Mar 9, 2020 at 12:51 pm

Are those employess properly protected for cleaning -- simple masks and gloves?

Are all the schools in PAUSD being cleaned?


Anonymous
another community
on Mar 9, 2020 at 1:54 pm
Anonymous, another community
on Mar 9, 2020 at 1:54 pm

Students at paly should not be allowed to cross the street for lunch and brunch. They can rough it and bring their own food to limit exposure.


District Teacher
Midtown
on Mar 9, 2020 at 2:15 pm
District Teacher, Midtown
on Mar 9, 2020 at 2:15 pm

Teachers have been given a bottle of the peroxide cleaner and two towels. No gloves or masks. There is a serious leadership problem going on. I find out more about my workplace and the health and safety of my students and me from this source or from parents who have received communications and shared them with us. Unconscionable and disrespectful.


mama bear
Palo Alto High School
on Mar 9, 2020 at 3:26 pm
mama bear , Palo Alto High School
on Mar 9, 2020 at 3:26 pm

My high school daughter developed a sore throat & fever over the weekend and now has congestion and cough. She won’t return to school until completely healthy. I do understand it is likely a cold or mild flu, but how can one be sure and know the proper steps to take? We called PAMF yesterday but they are not interested in testing her for COVID-19. How can we protect others in the community and know how to behave and limit exposure without more testing at the community level? Experts say Covid-19 symptoms can range from mild to severe. Since no one seems to be testing school age children with cold and flu symptoms, it seems we have little understanding of how many students have been exposed.


tests
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 9, 2020 at 3:41 pm
tests, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 9, 2020 at 3:41 pm

tests are not readily available, so PAMF has nothing to test your daughter with currently.


Parent
another community
on Mar 9, 2020 at 4:22 pm
Parent, another community
on Mar 9, 2020 at 4:22 pm

@mama bear

From one mama bear to another...
You are doing the right thing. Keep her home - it will prevent her from spreading whatever it is to others. Drink lots of fluids and rest.

It is now YOU who needs to take care of yourself, to prevent getting ill from her.


Teacher 2
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 9, 2020 at 5:49 pm
Teacher 2, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 9, 2020 at 5:49 pm

Teachers have not been provided masks or gloves. We have not been given materials to clean computers (many of us have computer carts students use regularly). We have not been informed about how often to clean. We do not all have sinks in our classrooms for students to wash hands, nor were we provided with hand sanitizer. Most of us are bringing in our own materials. The district and county health leaders have made it clear that they care little for the health and safety of teachers, staff, and students’ families. And if we are waiting on confirmed cases, yet people aren’t being tested, well...that’s not good.


paly student
Palo Alto High School
on Mar 9, 2020 at 5:49 pm
paly student, Palo Alto High School
on Mar 9, 2020 at 5:49 pm

@anonymous,
why not just cancel school. Surely the 2000+ people on the paly side of the street are more of a danger than the hundreds at tnc?

And since when was bringing your own lunch "roughing it." I'd argue walking across campus and spending money on local businesses is "roughing it" when compared to opening a bag and sitting down.


Family Friendly
Old Palo Alto
on Mar 9, 2020 at 6:39 pm
Family Friendly, Old Palo Alto
on Mar 9, 2020 at 6:39 pm

@Mama Bear: Keep trying. US companies are manufacturing millions of test kits per week, now. Eventually, PAMF will broaden the testing to include your daughter.


Shallow Alto
Palo Alto High School
on Mar 9, 2020 at 6:48 pm
Shallow Alto, Palo Alto High School
on Mar 9, 2020 at 6:48 pm

Love the comment about roughing it taking lunch to school. Back in my day I had no option, everyone took their lunch to school and none of us thought it was roughing it.

Talk about shallow alto.


Da Mayor
Ventura
on Mar 10, 2020 at 12:00 am
Da Mayor, Ventura
on Mar 10, 2020 at 12:00 am

Looking at the trajectory we are on matching Italy I expect schools will be closed by end of next week. The growth in number of cases matches the mathematical models to an astonishing degree.

Would be nice if we closed schools now to get ahead of it but human nature is to only act once the danger is unavoidably in our faces. Our imagination and emotional sense of risk doesn't do too well with exponentially spreading viruses.


Pat
Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 10, 2020 at 9:11 am
Pat, Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 10, 2020 at 9:11 am

By the time 5 children are proved infected, which means they were ACTUALLY tested, everyone at the school will be potentially exposed. Too little, too late.


Stay At Home & Have FUN!
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 10, 2020 at 9:22 am
Stay At Home & Have FUN!, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 10, 2020 at 9:22 am

When we hear of a sick child at school (i.e a child's specific classroom) we simply keep our kids at home where they can play, goof off, dabble on the computer, watch TV etc.

They are LOVING it!


Alvin
Professorville
on Mar 10, 2020 at 9:48 am
Alvin, Professorville
on Mar 10, 2020 at 9:48 am

Agree with the above commenters that it's time to shut down the schools or face another Italy, though we might have already missed the window. If companies are telling their employees to work from home, why are we still sending our kids to school?

My son had the "flu" over two weeks ago and today is the first day I allowed him to return to school. The doctor laughed when I asked him if it could be Covid-19. He laughed me off because the so-called experts at CDC said it was impossible to contract COVID unless you had been to China. I bet if they re-tested some of these past "flu" diagnoses, many would pop positive for COVID.


? Hidden transmission
another community
on Mar 10, 2020 at 12:07 pm
? Hidden transmission, another community
on Mar 10, 2020 at 12:07 pm

I remember when our kids started daycare. They were always getting sick, and as a result, we were always getting sick. Any parent who got sick in the school community would eventually sicken every other parent through their kids. Given that children can be infected with coronavirus and show few symptoms and are not even getting tested when symptomatic, I would suspect that coronavirus is spreading unchecked to the community through our schools. Why are people afraid to go to the movie theatre, but not afraid of their kids spending all day in a small room with thirty runny-nosed careless kids touching everything?


Teacher
another community
on Mar 12, 2020 at 1:30 am
Teacher, another community
on Mar 12, 2020 at 1:30 am

Why are you all waiting for the government to do something? This starts with us, as individuals and what cleaning measures WE take in our daily lives! I mean this is absolutely shocking that people are this disgusting when it comes to basic hygiene and consideration for others. The virus will continue to spread if people can’t even wash their hands, shutting down schools won’t do anything if people are not killing the virus themselves (can easily be picked up through cash, gas pumps, you name it). When people aren’t washing hands, not covering their mouths when they cough/sneeze, are not disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, what do you expect to happen? As a teacher I’ve taken measures into my own hands, it is infuriating to see comments on here that teachers are not being supplied with cleaning materials so schools should be shut down, (if you are that desperate, go get some, make your own solution or sanitizer etc.) these germs can be killed WITH BLEACH! Masks should be saved for the people who really need them, like healthcare workers. You should not be waiting for whatever government official to come and help clean your school. Could be buying bleach mixing it with water and spraying down your class rooms! If your child does not have a good habit of washing their hands, send them to school with hand sanitizer, educate them about the importance of keeping their hands out of their mouth/off face. Sitting at home “waiting it out”and having everything shut down will only have a negative effect on parents, workers, and the economy while barely having any effect on the virus. Message is : WASH YOUR HANDS! KEEP SURFACES CLEAN! And you’ll be fine!! Absolutely shocking that this has to be said!


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