California schools brace for a coronavirus disruption

Feb 29, 2020 by

School and college officials look to independent study, online classes as the likelihood of coronavirus could disrupt learning.

California State University campuses, such as CSU East Bay, may repurpose its online learning system if the coronavirus triggers a shut down. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

Early reports indicate children infected by the coronavirus experience a milder response than older adults. But as it arrives in Northern California, school and college officials are preparing for a growing likelihood that the highly contagious virus will disrupt learning and spark panic in young people and their naturally protective caretakers.

As dorms are being disinfected and exposed students are forced into quarantine, administrators are considering adding more cleaning staff while eyeing remote learning and independent study options to keep everyone from kindergartners to college seniors from veering off their academic schedules.

Already, community colleges have been asked to review emergency plans, and the California State University system is looking at repurposing its online learning system — built so students could take classes at sister campuses — in order to keep lessons going.

In Solano County northeast of San Francisco, where the nation’s first community spread was detected, K-12 public schools are offering parents the option of having their children learn from home through independent study. Other school districts, such as Sacramento, are dispatching nurses to give hand washing lessons and demonstrate the right way to cover a cough or sneeze. Students who get sick will get extra time to complete assignments.

All these precautions come with some encouraging news for youth: A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association identified nine infants with the virus in Wuhan, China, who were hospitalized and none experienced severe complications beyond fevers and coughs. Still, federal health officials are warning — and past experiences show — California can expect more students to stay home in the event of a widespread transmission of the coronavirus.

Independent study offered to students

California, with its volume of travelers crisscrossing the Pacific, was an early state to be hit by the virus. Now, new infections are being reported by the day. Solano County was the nation’s first case of community spread, meaning a person was infected without traveling internationally or being in close contact with anyone known to have it. A second case was reported late Friday in Santa Clara County.

The Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District, Solano County’s largest district, received a flood of messages from concerned parents following reports that a county resident had contracted the virus, said Tim Goree, the district’s executive director of administrative services.

Goree said school employees have been vigilant about disinfecting surfaces, and that the district may hire more cleaners.

Source: California schools brace for a coronavirus disruption | CalMatters

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.