Local Schools Prepared for COVID-19 Response
Health and Safety Come first; Teachers Preparing to Provide Remote Learning Activities in Case of School Closure
From School Superintendent, John Carroll
The Lagunitas and Bolinas-Stinson School Districts have made plans to respond to the spread of COVID-19. Since the rapid expansion of the disease in mid-February, local school officials have been collaborating with Marin County Health and Human Services (Public Health) to prepare for the possibility of the infection expanding within our community.
Marin’s School Superintendents are in daily contact with the Marin County Office of Education and Marin Public Health. We receive regular updates and participate in conference calls to ensure that schools have the most current, factual information and can make level-headed decisions as conditions change.
Student and staff safety is our first concern. We are also remaining vigilant as partners in supporting the overall health and safety of our entire region. We recognize that schools are an important center of civic life and that precautions we take and plans we make will have an impact beyond the classroom and the school yard.
We are fortunate in Marin to have an expert cadre of physicians and other healthcare professionals under the leadership of Public Health Officer Dr. Matt Willis. Dr. Willis along with other experts from Marin General Hospital and Kaiser have been proactive in keeping school leaders informed with accurate, current information.
A Changing Environment
One thing we have learned is that conditions change nearly every day and sometimes every hour. What we thought was a remote chance of COVID-19 having a direct impact on us has quickly become a reality for our county. Our response is to stay vigilant and to use our local experts and their broader network in the state as we develop responses to events that may or may not happen. There is potential risk in not reacting quickly enough and in reacting too quickly. So in the face of guaranteed and uncertainty, we need to remain calm so we can make the best possible decisions.
A few key measures have been suggested consistently throughout the outbreak of this pandemic. First, if you or your child are sick, stay home and reduce interaction with other people as much as possible. Secondly, wash your hands regularly throughout the day and avoid touching your face. When flu-like symptoms are present, it’s important to be far more careful than you would have been in the past. (Please see the Public Health website for additional measures but remember that updates happen frequently.) https://www.marinhhs.org/sites/default/files/files/public-health-updates/alert_covid2020.03.11-final.pdf
Possible School Closures and Event Cancellations
Public Health may order any school closed at any moment. The circumstance for a mandated closure would be any student or staff member having a positive test for COVID-19. A closure would last for approximately 2 weeks. As of now the schools (with the advice of Public Health) have cancelled all indoor events where more than 100 people are expected. That order will remain in place until further notice and applies to events at the San Geronimo Valley Community Center as well.
Schools are also allowed to close individually when the Superintendent deems it necessary. Superintendents generally rely on expert advice from Public Health doctors but if local circumstances warrant, we may see individual schools closing in our area. If our school closes you will be notified through a variety of media and will be given an estimate as to how long the closure will last.
Keeping school open is preferable and better for children and families, so long as reliable information tells us that it is safer to stay open than it is to close. It is important for all of us to be aware that a closure carries potentially damaging consequences as well. Our schools not only facilitate learning but also provide care and supervision in a safe space.
Our teachers are preparing learning activities and assignments that can be delivered remotely via e-mail (or other media depending on the teacher) We will also organize drop-off locations for those without internet access.
A Team Effort and Self-Care
At this time of uncertainty, let us remember to care for one another. This pandemic, like life itself, is uncertain and while we may want more detail and more clarity from our leaders, we should remember that they can’t know all the answers. The wisest among them will be honest and admit sometimes that they just don’t know.
Some of us are easily worried and may need more support. Others may not express enough concern and may need kind-hearted reminders to keep up with basic precautions. But we all need to see this moment as an opportunity to come together (virtually and from a safe distance!) and act in a way that will keep our whole school and our whole world as healthy as can be. When you wash your hands with extra care or distance yourself from others during this time, remember that you are not doing it for yourself but for your whole community. This outbreak is likely to expand before things get better so please do your part to by taking care of yourself first.