MONTEREY COUNTY — Monterey County Office of Education announced Thursday that most of the county’s school districts and charter schools are not anticipating to reopen before May 4 due to ongoing concerns related to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
In a letter signed by the county superintendent and school leaders, the decision to extend the school closures came about after more and more residents have tested positive for COVID-19, not only in the county but throughout California and the nation as well.
“While we recognize this extension of school facility closures poses challenges and hardship to many families in Monterey County, the health and safety of our students, families and communities must be our priority,” said Deneen Guss, Monterey County Superintendent of Schools. “Research shows the most effective way to slow and disrupt the transmission of this pandemic is by continuing to implement social-distancing practices, and we need everyone’s help in supporting the stay-at-home/shelter-in-place order.”
According to Guss, if the statewide stay-at-home order is lifted before May 4 and school facilities are deemed safe and ready for students to return, schools will notify their respective communities at least one week prior to the reopening date.
Meanwhile, education will continue through distance learning and free meals will be provided to students throughout the week.
“The educational community has also been working with our partner agencies to determine how to deliver services and support in new ways during this time,” Guss said. “We are thankful for the heroic efforts of all who are working for and in unison with schools, and for the donors who are reaching out to offer their help.”
She said the districts recognize that schools may need to stay closed for the remainder of the academic year to prevent further spread of COVID-19 and will provide regular updates as the situation evolves.
As of March 26, Monterey County Health Department reported that there are 24 residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 in Monterey County, and at least four of them appear to have been acquired locally through community transmission.
“Schools play a vital role in our communities, and balancing that role with the need for keeping our Monterey County residents safe and socially distanced is essential at this time when we have evidence of community transmission in Monterey County,” said Dr. Edward Moreno, Monterey County Health Officer.
Also on Thursday, Hartnell Community College announced that its online instruction and student services will continue beyond the initial April 7 end date.
In an email to students and employees, Hartnell Superintendent/President Patricia Hsieh said the current situation — including the campus closures in Salinas and King City — will remain “until further notice.”
“We continue to review and respond to government public health orders and recommendations from the county, state and federal levels,” Hsieh said. “As I have repeatedly emphasized, the health and safety of our college community and the greater community are our highest priority.”