UDPATED: Almost All County Schools to Close in Effort to Prevent COVID-19 Spread

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Humboldt County Public Health Laboratory staff analyzing a COVID-19 test. - HUMBOLDT COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
  • Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services
  • Humboldt County Public Health Laboratory staff analyzing a COVID-19 test.

THIRD UPDATE:
Eureka City Schools Trustee Mario Fernandez announced on Facebook that the school board has decided to close all school sites, with their tentative return to classes April 20, 2020.

Find a spreadsheet the Humboldt County Office of Education put together to track closures by licking here.

SECOND UPDATE:

The Humboldt County Office of Education just issued a press release indicating almost all local schools will begin closures immediately in an attempt to fight the spread of COVID-19, with the apparent exception of Eureka City Schools, which has yet to announce closures.

All schools within the Eureka district were already planned to be closed tomorrow for a professional development day. On Friday, the district indicated it would spend a portion of that day “planning for distance learning.”

“Things are changing by the minute, so if we are asked to close over the weekend by our governor or public health, we will update you as soon as possible,” reads a Eureka City Schools Facebook post from Friday.

In an HCOE press release, County Superintendent Chris Hartley indicated that none of these decisions are made lightly and that all districts recognize the hardships school closures can cause for families.

“All districts in Humboldt County are immensely concerned and invested in maintaining the safety and well-being of all students and our community,” he said. “Given the complexity and uncertainty of COVID-19 spread, it is sensible to foster as much social distancing in our schools as possible.”

State Sen. Mike McGuire, who participated in a conference call with local education officials this morning, said he supports temporary school closures.

“There is no doubt that the lives of North Coast residents are being dramatically altered,” he said. “Millions across the state are sacrificing: families, workers, small businesses and local nonprofits. Closing down on-site education at school campuses, ceasing community gatherings and stopping group meetings is the only way to slow the spread of the virus. The quicker we all act and practice social distancing, the more infections we’ll prevent. Superintendent Hartley is 100 percent doing the right thing and we'll be working with him in the weeks to come to ensure the needs of all students are being met.”

See the full HCOE press release copied below our initial post.

FIRST UPDATE:
Jacoby Creek School, McKinleyville Union School District, Fortuna Middle School and  Arcata Elementary School District have also announced they will be closed beginning tomorrow.

PREVIOUSLY:
Schools throughout Humboldt County have decided to close this week in a precautionary effort to follow social distancing recommendations and prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Humboldt County Office of Education spokesperson Jenny Bowen told the Journal  she is working on a comprehensive list of school closures and hopes to release it shortly. In the meantime, multiple districts have already informed families they have decided to close beginning tomorrow.

This morning, a message went out to families with students in Pacific Union School, telling them that, after consulting with Humboldt County Superintendent Chris Hartley and state Sen. Mike McGuire, Pacific Union Superintendent Rene McBride has decided to shutter the school at least through March 27. Teachers will be on campus Monday putting together "enrichment packets" for students, which will be available for families to pick up from the campus Wednesday.

At about 12:45 p.m., St. Bernard's Academy also announced it will be closed to face-to-face instruction for the coming two weeks and will shift all classes to a "remote learning" model.

"The health of our students and staff is our priority," Principal Paul Shanahan said in a press release. "We will do our best to 'flatten the curve' of infection' through social distancing."

Last night, families of Northern Humboldt Union High School District students got an email from Superintendent Roger Macdonald informing them school would be canceled March 16-20 due to concerns over COVID-19.

The message states, "This decision is being made out of a preponderance of caution; we are not aware of any confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our District." Macdonald says the district will reassess Friday and determine to determine what comes next. He continues, "I will send out a communication tomorrow afternoon that outlines some of our plans for food services and a blended distance learning model for our students."

Trinidad Union School and Freshwater School District have also informed families they will be closing this week. We'll update this post with a more comprehensive list as soon as we can get it.

The Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services has also launched a hotline for residents with questions about the virus. It can be reached at covidinfo@co.humboldt.ca.us or at (707) 441-5000. Residents seeking medical advice or questions about testing are asked to contact Public Health at hhsphb@co.humbldt.ca.us or at (707) 445-6200.

From HCOE:

School Closure Updates – COVID-19

California and Humboldt County are working hard to fight the spread of COVID-19. Humboldt County Office of Education (HCOE) has facilitated several meetings with local school district and health officials to determine how to best and fully support districts pausing on site school instruction.

HCOE Superintendent Chris Hartley shares his full support of temporary school closures and anticipates that most county districts will announce school closures to their respective communities today. He states, “all districts in Humboldt County are immensely concerned and invested in maintaining the safety and well-being of all students and our community. Given the complexity and uncertainty of COVID-19 spread, it is sensible to foster as much social distancing in our schools as possible.”

Senator McGuire attended a conference call with HCOE and District leaders this morning, and shared his support of pausing school on site services for all districts throughout Humboldt County. "There is no doubt that the lives of North Coast residents are being dramatically altered. Millions across the state are sacrificing: families, workers, small businesses and local nonprofits,” Senator McGuire states. "Closing down on-site education at school campuses, ceasing community gatherings and stopping group meetings is the only way to slow the spread of the virus. The quicker we all act and practice social distancing, the more infections we’ll prevent. Superintendent Hartley is 100% doing the right thing, and we'll be working with him in the weeks to come to ensure the needs of all students are being met.”

For the majority of school districts, the closures will begin Monday, March 16 and continue through March 30.
Districts will continue to evaluate and assess information as it becomes available and may announce longer closures depending on further guidance from State officials.

School personnel are encouraged to await information from their specific districts for information regarding reporting to individual work sites. Up to date information regarding these closures and individual district time-lines will be available on our website: www.hcoe.org/covid-19.

This decision was not made lightly as all districts recognize this may cause a hardship for some families. Each district will continue to communicate directly with families and staff with updates regarding meal distribution, optional enrichment activities or distance learning, and any childcare options that will be available.

We appreciate the community’s support in taking proactive steps to fight the spread of COVID-19. These steps to prevent illness make a significant difference in safeguarding the health of our communities, and we encourage continued attention in this effort.

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