School’s out – but it’s not summer, or spring or winter break. Responding to direction from Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) recommendations, all local school districts have shuttered their doors at least until after the planned spring break. If all goes well, most area students should head back into the classrooms April 13.
By executive order, Governor Gavin Newsom directed more money for remote learning and daycare options for working parents to deal with the state of emergency due to COVID-19 earlier this month.
“Districts that choose to close must use state educational dollars to quickly meet the needs of children and families,” Newsom said. “(They must) provide ways to keep school meals and provide for students during ordinary school hours.”
This action ensures school funding will continue without students in the classrooms. Newsome also modified the Brown Act during the current crisis, which modifies public notification requirements, among other things.
So far, the two large districts in Galt, Galt Joint Union High School District (GJUHSD) and the Galt Joint Union Elementary School District (GHUESD), decided to close schools.
Galt high schools
High school Superintendent William Spalding met with district trustees last Sunday to discuss COVID-19 and its implications regarding the schools. Ultimately the decision was to close schools to slow the spread of the virus.
“Recent events and concerns about student, staff and public health have prompted all of Sacramento County’s school districts, with the consultation and support of Sacramento County Public Health and Sacramento County Office of Education, to close schools for the next three weeks, March 16 to April 3,” said Spalding in an email on March 13. “We know that this may present a hardship, and hope that you can appreciate the difficulty of the decision and the concern for student, staff and public safety.”
Spalding said lunches and breakfast would be available for pickup.
“At this time, our Food Services Department is preparing for food distribution per federal and state guidelines starting tomorrow (Tuesday, March 17), much the same as we provide summer meal service,” Spalding said.
Drive-up service to pick up meals will be available at the Nottoli Gym at Galt High and at Liberty Ranch High in front of the cafeteria between the hours of 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Remote learning will be available for high school students, according to Spalding.
“We are working with our teachers in the coming days to develop lessons and the capability of providing online learning throughout this school closure,” Spalding said. “We are inventorying available computer devices and will be asking our students to respond to an online survey this week to determine how many of our students have computing devices and internet access at home, and how many will need equipment provided by the school. We are working to make this online learning available as soon as we can.”
Notification of the survey was sent to parents Tuesday morning. Parents and/or students are encouraged to fill out the survey located at www.ghsd.us.
Galt elementary schools
GJUESD Superintendent Karen Schauer said the decision to close came after many conversations and meetings that included input from the Sacramento County Public Health Agency on March 13.
“In an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Galt Joint Union Elementary School District schools will be closed up to three weeks,” Schauer said. “With spring break, this could be through April 10.”
Like with the high school district, elementary students who are in need of breakfast and lunch can pick up their meals at the local schools.
“Parents can come to any school location in the school bus lane zone from 11 p.m. to 1 p.m. to pick up the student lunch,” Schauer said. “Breakfast for the next day will be provided, too.”
Schauer wanted to assure families that the school closures were not due to a positive COVID-19 test.
“At this time, there are no students or staff with a positive COVID-19 diagnosis,” Schauer said. “This was an emergency situation due to the COVID-19 crisis.”
Galt elementary school teachers are working on remote learning to be used with the district’s Chrome Books.
“Teachers are coming in today (Monday) and will work on a home learning plan that can include distance learning,” Schauer said. “We are striving to roll the home learning plans out to students later this week. When we are ready for learning plan distribution, we will also have Chrome Books with internet access tools for children who do not have home access.”
New Hope Elementary School
Principal Janet Stemler said New Hope Elementary would be closed until April 6.
“Teachers are working on providing students with websites already in place,” Stemler said. “They’ll be working through Wednesday putting together packets, extra books and write-in workbooks that will be given out with lunches from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m.”
Stemler said her students who ride the bus would have their lunches that include breakfast for the following morning delivered by their regular bus driver. She encouraged parents to visit the school’s website regularly to be up-to-date on changes that may occur. You may access the school website at NHESD.net.
Oak View Elementary
Superintendent Beverly Boone announced Tuesday, March 17 that classes would be cancelled from March 19 through March 27.
Boone originally said Oak View would not close but go on with classes for students until further notice. She said the authority to close schools remains the decision of each school district.
“We wanted to be more methodical and depend on medical professionals,” said Boone. “We will wait on the CDC (California Department of Health & Human Services) to see if they recommend school closures.”
Staffing issues became a problem so the decision to close the school for a time was made. As of press time, details of remote learning had not been made.
Arcohe Elementary School
Arcohe Elementary will be closed from March 16 through April 3. Spring Break will be from April 6 through April 13. No lunches will be provided during Spring Break.
Principal Troy Miller said they passed out 46 lunches on Monday and will continue to offer pickup lunches throughout the school closure from 11 a.m. until 12 p.m., Monday through Friday. He said Food Manager Lisa Austin did an “awesome job” working over the weekend to get things started.
“If you are truly unable to come to school for the Grab and Go lunch pickup during these next three weeks and are in actual need of student lunches, please contact the school at 209-748-2313 and we will make arrangements to help families out,” said Miller on the school’s website.
Free lunches with breakfast for the following morning will be provided for all children 18 years and younger. They need not be enrolled at Arcohe to receive the free meals but must be present at the time of pickup.
All districts strongly suggest that parents visit school websites often for updates as changes are expected daily.