SANTA CRUZ COUNTY—The Santa Cruz County Office of Education on Thursday evening announced that all schools in the county will be closed from March 16-20.
The announcement was emailed to parents throughout the county one day after a case was confirmed in a person with a connection to Rio Del Mar Elementary School in Aptos. That school was set to be closed until Monday, until the larger closure order came through.
School officials will reassess at the end of next week whether an extension of school closures beyond March 20 will be necessary.
There are currently seven confirmed cases in Santa Cruz County, which Public Health Officer Gail Newel said is likely to increase “significantly.”
Schools will remain in session as usual on Friday to give students an opportunity to receive direction and gather educational materials from their teachers.
School officials plan to work throughout the closure to provide services and resources such as free and reduced meal programs. They will contact families promptly about services available to them throughout the closure.
The letter asks families during the closure to stay home and minimize social contact as much as possible, and to avoid large public gatherings such as malls, movie theaters and other spaces, especially those that are indoors.
While children have not been shown to be a high-risk group for serious illness from COVID-19, they are still able to transmit the virus to populations who are most vulnerable to serious illness, such as older adults and those with compromised immune systems.
“While we recognize this decision will pose challenges and hardship to many families in our county, the most effective way to slow and disrupt the transmission of this pandemic is by implementing social distancing practices,” the letter reads. “Protecting public health requires a community-wide response, and we will need the help of families to help remain united in our response.”
For ideas on how to talk to children about COVID-19 please visit: sccoe.link/talking_about_COVID19.