Oakland Public Schools to Close for 3 Weeks Over Coronavirus Concerns

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The Oakland Unified School District announced on Friday that it is joining other districts in the area in closing schools because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. See a full list of Bay Area school closures here.

Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell wrote in a message to the community that the district's schools will be closed to students starting on Saturday and remained closed through at least April 5, which is the end of spring break.

Johnson-Trammell said school district offices will remain open but in-person public access will be limited.

She said all district employees will continue to work and be paid throughout this period, although exact responsibilities and worksite locations may vary.

Each school will receive a deep cleaning during the school closures.

Johnson-Trammell said the district hopes to be able to resume instruction on April 6 but will continually assess the conditions to determine the best time for reopening schools.

Dr. Erica Pan, Alameda County's health officer, told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday that closing schools "is not necessarily the best measure" for stopping the spread of the coronavirus.

But Johnson-Trammell said, "After much deliberation and consulting with the Alameda County Public Health Department, the Alameda County Office of Education, city leaders including Mayor Libby Schaaf and our labor partners and partner organizations, I decided that it was the right time to close our schools."

She said, "It will allow all students, school staff and families to do what they need to do to keep themselves healthy, and help prevent the spread of coronavirus. This is an imperfect solution, because county health experts tell us that unless children stay in their homes away from other people for the duration of the closure then they still run the risk of potential exposure."

Johnson-Trammell wrote, "Closing schools deeply affects so many of our families who depend on schools to provide a safe place for their children, food, and many other services. School sites have been and will continue to be crafting continuity of education plans, with each school preparing to provide assignments to students."

But she said that effort is not designed to replace the value of instruction at school with teachers.

Johnson-Trammell said each school plan will be posted on the district's website and she expects all plans to be posted by Tuesday or Wednesday.

She said that during the closure the district's Nutrition Services Department will open twelve schools throughout the city where "Grab and Go" breakfast and lunch meals will be available for students.

Alameda County Superintendent L. Karen Monroe said she supports Johnson-Trammell's decision to close Oakland's schools.

Monroe said, "As an education leader, the health, safety, and welfare of students and staff is of the utmost importance to me."

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