Los Angeles and San Diego will shut down their school systems due to the growing coronavirus outbreak, district officials announced Friday.
The closures, effective Monday, were announced in a joint statement released by the school districts, which serve more than 750,000 students combined. It’s unclear when they are expected to end.
“California has now entered a critical new phase in the fight to stop the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic,” Los Angeles Superintendent Austin Beutner and San Diego Superintendent Cindy Marten said. “There is evidence the virus is already present in the communities we serve, and our efforts now must be aimed at preventing its spread.”
The move by the two districts, including the nation’s second-largest school system, was unanimously approved, KTLA reports.
The closure of Los Angeles schools is expected to last at least two weeks as administrators “evaluate the appropriate path forward,” according to an email Beutner wrote to employees.
Families with childcare needs during the shutdown can get assistance at 40 family resource centers operated by the Los Angeles Unified School District, Beutner said.
School officials had previously resisted shutting down classrooms because county health officials identified no confirmed cases of coronavirus linked to one of 900 campuses in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times reports.
But a growing numbers of calls to close schools throughout Los Angeles prompted an emergency board meeting set for Friday afternoon to be rescheduled for earlier in the day to allow staffers more time to prepare, school board President Richard Vladovic said.
“We are united in feeling that children and staff deserve extraordinary care,” Vladovic told the newspaper prior to the vote.
The joint announcement was the latest in a cascade of school closures amid the coronavirus, impacting millions of students from Oregon to Michigan to Pennsylvania.
Meanwhile, in New York, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson on Friday called for a temporary shutdown of all public schools, publicly opposing Mayor Bill de Blasio’s belief that they should remain open.
“I think it is appropriate at this time that we instead of doing this in a piecemeal way that we close schools temporarily,” Johnson told NY1.
Dept. of Education Chancellor Richard Carranza told Fox 5’s “Good Day New York” that the option was considered to be a “last resort” for the nation’s largest school system.
In Oregon Gov. Kate Brown on Thursday announced the statewide closure of all K-12 schools starting Monday, citing staff shortages and public health concerns related to the pandemic, which has killed more than 5,000 people worldwide. The shutdown will run through March 31, Brown said.
“I want to be clear: sending Oregon children home will not stop the spread of the coronavirus,” Brown said in a statement.
“While children are home, when at all possible, they should not be in the care of older adults or those with underlying health issues that are most at-risk from COVID-19.”
Thirty people in Oregon have been diagnosed with coronavirus as of Friday, according to The Oregonian. Earlier Thursday, Brown said residents should be prepared for thousands of new diagnoses.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer also announced Thursday that the state’s public and private institutions would be closed for three weeks, beginning on Monday. At least 12 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus in Michigan as of Thursday.
Elsewhere, in Pennsylvania, schools in at least 10 counties were closed Friday as health officials continue to battle the virus in the state, where 33 people have tested positive — with more than 100 other screenings pending.
With Post wires
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