by Sasha Ryu
This afternoon, the Santa Clara County Superintendent of Schools held a press conference to announce that County schools are required to close during the three weeks following Monday, March 16, due to “increasing rates of COVID-19.”
The mandated closure ends right as the scheduled Spring Break at LGHS begins, so students won’t return to class until April 10th.
According to the administration, students are still expected to complete coursework a week after the closures begin by accessing learning materials online.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.
UPDATE from March 16, 2020
by Jenna Roseli
On March 13, Los Gatos High School students among other schools in Santa Clara County received an anticipated email from LGSUHSD’s Superintendent Michael Grove, as well as President and Board of Trustees Cynthia Chang. It announced the closure of all public and charter schools in Santa Clara county as part of the district’s plans to protect the community’s health against the COVID-19 outbreak. The closure of schools began March 16 and is expected to last through April 3 at the earliest.
The school district plans to use the week of March 16 to prepare teachers to institute structures and processes to allow all students to continue their learning from home, including students without internet access and those with special needs. By Thurs., March 19, schools will supply additional information for students and families to immerse in online education. All online schooling will start Mon., March 23, and will stay in place until students are able to physically return to school, except for the week of Spring Break (April 6-10).
Dr. Sara Cody spoke in a press conference held by Santa Clara County leaders addressing the severity of the COVID-19 outbreak in the community and the reasoning behind their decision to mandate temporary school closure.
Aside from school closures, the press conference explained the county’s plans to address the rising number of COVID-19 cases. The Santa Clara County Public Health Department released information communicating that since March 9, there has been an increase of 36 more cases and a little over a three-fold increase in the last week to bring the total to 79 cases in Santa Clara as of March 13. Forty-three of these cases represent community transmission, meaning they are not connected to travel or close contacts. Dr. Sara Cody stated during the press conference that due to the data they’ve gathered and the patterns of disease around the world, the outbreak of the virus in Santa Clara will “continue to accelerate” and that they “anticipate many more cases in the days to come.”
As a result of Los Gatos High School effectively shutting down for four weeks, many school activities, organizations, programs, staff, and people will be negatively impacted. It’s understandable that school gatherings such as the Sadie Hawkins’s dance and the Spring Rally are canceled temporarily, as a reschedule for the event has yet to be confirmed.
LGHS’s theater program was denied the chance to perform their production of Mamma Mia! in front live audiences, but were fortunately able to tape a run through to commemorate their hard work. Sophomore Riya Narain, one of the many talented students who performed in Mamma Mia! expressed her disappointment as the cast and crew put months of preparation into the production, working multiple hours a day to not perform in front of an audience. But, Narain explained that “doing a show is more than just performing it” as she focuses on the positivity of the unfortunate situation explaining “it’s also about building a family with the cast and making friends so it wasn’t all a waste.”
Students who depend on school for free and reduced-price meals during the week are especially affected by school closure. This new issue arises as students and families within the county face the challenge of finding new outlets and ways to obtain food during uncertain and lengthy closures of school. However, students in the district are making it their duty to support one another as multiple people are spreading awareness about the community’s issue throughout social media platforms as well as setting up GoFundMe sites for those that are affected in this way.
In San Francisco Mayor London Breed in a press conference put into place on March 16 an order for all residents of the city to stay home and not leave their homes unless it’s absolutely essential. This order now applies to Santa Clara County as well. The mayor informed that garbage will still be picked up, pharmacies, banks, and grocery stores will remain open, but restaurants will work as take out only.
Despite the pandemonium that is surrounding society during this uncertain time, the leaders of Santa Clara County and the school districts are working incredibly hard to handle this unfortunate situation as well as possible so that every aspect of the community can remain safe and healthy, a goal that concerns everyone at the end of the day.
(Sources: Santa Clara Unified School District, NBC Bay Area, Mercury News, KGO)