Coronavirus causes WCCUSD to close all schools for three weeks

Coronavirus causes WCCUSD to close all schools for three weeks
WCCUSD offices at 1108 Bissell Ave. in Richmond. (Photo credit: WCCUSD)

All West Contra Costa Unified School (WCCUSD) schools will close for three weeks starting Monday due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, the district announced this afternoon.

On Friday, all students in the district will be dismissed at noon. Schools will resume on Monday, April 6. In order to minimize disruption to the school calendar, Sprink Break will be moved up to the week of March 30, according to WCCUSD.

There have not been any confirmed cases of students or staff at any WCCUSD school contracting coronavirus. The closure of schools was done “out of an abundance of caution,” the district said.

This morning, Verde Elementary was closed to undergo a “deep cleaning” after a staff member was reported to have a suspected case of the virus, also known as COVID-19. On Monday, WCCUSD informed parents at two elementary schools — Washington and Mira Vista — that a relative of students attending those schools had tested positive for COVID-19. The schools resumed this week but the students in question stayed home, according to the school district.

WCCUSD became the latest school system to close schools. Earlier today, the San Francisco Unified School District announced it would close all schools for three weeks.

“We know closing schools for a long duration is a burden and we want to provide as many services as possible during this time,” according to WCCUSD. “Students will be expected to continue instruction through their laptops or tablets and meals will be available at selected schools during the closure.”

The disruption should “not be viewed as an opportunity to head to the nearest amusement park or movie theater,” Superintendent Matthew Duffy said. “The only way that school closures can be helpful in arresting the spread of this disease is if everyone continues to follow the recommendations from our health experts. We also have the technology and teaching staff to ensure that learning continues, even if the physical school campuses are closed.”

The district added, “For the first two weeks, students in Grades 2-12 will use laptops and tablets to continue instruction and be monitored and guided by teachers using online tools. First grade, kindergarten and transitional kindergarten students will receive packets of work to take home.”

Meals will be offered to students at several schools during the first two weeks of the closure. Meals can be picked up at Pinole Valley, De Anza, Richmond, and Kennedy high schools; Helms and Dejean middle schools; and Nystrom, Riverside and Montalvin elementary schools. The meals will be served between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., the district said.