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How The State Says California Schools Should Respond To Coronavirus

FILE - A Seattle-area high school cancelled in-person instruction in response to COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images
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Concerns about the new coronavirus prompted Northern California’s largest school district, Elk Grove Unified, to cancel classes for this entire week — even though no students or staff are known to have the disease.

Here in Southern California, Murrieta Valley High School is closed Monday as a sick teacher awaits COVID-19 test results.

And Gov. Gavin Newsom said it’s a “question of when, not if” more schools will suspend classes amid the outbreak.

Newsom issued that statement over the weekend as the California Department of Public Health sent updated advice to local school districts about how to handle the virus. Here’s some of what it says:

  • One case is enough to close schools. “If one student, teacher or staff member tests positive for COVID-19 and exposed others at the school,” the guidance says, administrators should consider canceling classes — though they should check with the local public health department about any closures.
  • If schools close, don’t gather elsewhere. If a school shuts down, administrators should discourage students or staff from gathering elsewhere — at, for example, “group activities or events, religious services, after-school classes and sporting events.”
  • At least two cases in the community — but no positive cases among students or teachers? The guidance still says schools should “limit visitors to the school” if they have symptoms, “consider alternatives” to school assemblies and to explore grouping recess by class to limit student mixing.
  • Continue preventative measures, like sending home students or staff who have fevers or respiratory infection symptoms.
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You can read the full document from the state departments of Public Health and Education here.