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PRJUSD Board combats Coronavirus

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Covid-19 outbreak shuts down all schools after emergency school board meeting

Following recent actions taken by other counties in California, the Paso Robles School Board made the decision to close down all public schools under PRJUSD until and including April 10, 2020. 

In anticipation of what orders California governor Gavin Newsom will carry out next, the school board held an emergency meeting Friday, March 13, to protect student and staff health during the Covid-19 pandemic.

A vote 7-0 followed the discussion, historically suspending school days and school activities, as initiated by board member Chris Bausch and seconded by board member Tim Gearhart.

“If we wait until somebody is identified [as having the virus], that means it’s too late because other cases will have already been infected,” Gearhart said. 

The main concern is to ensure as little exposure as possible to the virus so as not to spread it. Within two days of the closure, SLO County had identified two Covid-19 cases.  

Superintendent Curt Dubost mentioned the CDC’s recommendation of “short to medium school closures [not having] the necessary impact on reducing the spread of the Coronavirus. Officials suggest longer closures of 8 to 20 weeks.” This information was met with disagreement from both the board and the audience. 

Trustees discussed the concern that students K-12 could be potential carriers without showing symptoms. 

A second motion to close the school district for four weeks was made considering the dates of March 13 to April 10. This motion’s vote was assessed to be 4-3 in favor of school closure.

A meeting on March 24 has been scheduled to discuss the movement of spring break either back to its original date or keep it a part of the currently postponed school schedule depending on the outcome of the next two weeks.

Issues also arose such as school breakfasts and lunches for qualifying students and lunches, as well as how education will continue off-campus. Teachers are ordered to hold off on assignments until an instructional plan is hammered out during the week of March 16, 2020.

 “We would designate a two hour period and we would hand out a cold breakfast that kids could take and eat the next morning and then give a hot lunch for the day,” Director of Food Service Joseph Vaughn conveyed as part of the plan to get food to dependent children. Four sites have been considered: Georgia Brown Elementary School, Flamson Middle School, Paso Robles High School, and Winifred Pifer Elementary School. For more information regarding food pick ups, the district posted a pick up schedule.

Staff and parents of students should be receiving an email for Dubost explaining this unprecedented situation and schedule change

For now, the decision to postpone school and school activities has been made in favor of closure as an attempt to slow the spread of Covid-19 as cases become apparent within SLO county.

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    Geoffrey LandMar 16, 2020 at 4:53 pm

    Great article, Emily. Thank you for maintaining journalistic excellence in the face of an unprecedented body blow to our school year. I hope that Crimson can keep our scattered school community informed and united as we do our part to “flatten the curve” of the COVID 19 health crisis.

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