At least two local private schools in Mountain View and Los Altos have announced plans to shift to online classes in response to concerns surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak: St. Francis High School and Canterbury Christian School.
Starting March 12, all school events and activities at St. Francis High School in Mountain View are canceled, including co-curricular and athletic practices, meetings, events and contests, both on and off campus. The campus was open today for students to check in with instructors and to collect their things, but starting Friday, March 13, the school will be closed to students and classes will be taught online until March 30, according to an online statement from Principal Katie Teekell.
Access the latest updates from the high school here.
In a move made out of an "abundance of caution" in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Canterbury Christian School, a private pre-K through 5th grade school in Los Altos, will close for a week, the school's headmaster, Father Steven Macias, announced Thursday.
The school, which has about 58 students, will close starting Monday, March 16, and plans to resume classes up on Monday, March 23, but that the date could change, according to an email announcement from the school.
There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the school, but the decision is based on recommended mitigation strategies such as "social distancing" and limiting gatherings.
Over the week, the school will be closed to staff. If the closure is set to last for longer than a week, the school may make alternative arrangements to prepare coursework to do at home.
In addition, the school announced it wouldn't serve hot lunch on March 13 so families should pack lunches for their children.
There are a number of private schools in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties that have announced temporary closures in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Additional local school closures
The Foothill-De Anza Community College District announced on Wednesday that in-person classes at the two community colleges would move online starting Monday, March 16, for the rest of the academic year. For some activity, studio, and laboratory classes, however, teachers and students can choose to continue to meet in person to finish this quarter. The campuses themselves will remain open, though Foothill College has canceled all on-campus events through the end of April.
A growing number of local private schools are shuttering temporarily in response to public health recommendations to increase social distancing, including the Kehillah Jewish High School in Palo Alto, the International School of the Peninsula in Palo Alto, Sacred Heart Schools in Atherton, Phillips Brooks School in Menlo Park, Woodside Priory in Portola Valley, Canterbury Christian School in Los Altos and Serra High School in San Mateo. Menlo School, which closed from March 4 to 6 after a staff member interacted with a relative who tested positive for the coronavirus, announced Thursday morning that it was closing again, at least through the end of spring break on April 13.
Castilleja School will be closing its Palo Alto campus and moving all classes online out of an "abundance of caution" — a step that more local private K-12 schools are taking to stem the potential spread of the new coronavirus, as public schools remain open.
There have been no confirmed cases of the coronavirus to date at Castilleja. The Santa Clara County Public Health Department is not currently recommending closing schools, though it will consider whether a campus should close if a staff member or student is confirmed to have COVID-19.
"Children have not been shown to be a high-risk group for serious illness from this virus, and schools can still limit the number of people in close proximity to one another," reads a county public health FAQ. "As much as possible, children should be allowed to carry on with their education and normal activities."
Students, if sent home, could also expose more vulnerable, older family members, the county has said.
Castilleja's campus will close on Monday, March 16, through spring break "at a minimum," school leaders said. Castilleja had already canceled classes this Monday to allow teachers to prepare for the possibly of moving their instruction online.
In a Wednesday update, the Palo Alto school district described closing schools is a "last resort as it causes significant community disruption."
"Not every family or parent has the time off or the financial security to stay home from work with their child. Many families also rely on schools and staff for basic needs for their children, including regular meals, health care and child care. If schools shut down, vulnerable families will experience the greatest burden and suffer negative impacts," the district said.
The Menlo Park City School District is now encouraging families who can to keep their children home to do so and will provide them with remote learning until spring break starts at the end of the month. The district's schools will remain open, providing busing, hot lunch and after-school programs to students.
"MPCSD's goal is to find a middle ground between shutting everything down and continuing our normal program," Superintendent Erik Burmeister wrote in a message to families and staff on Wednesday.
Staff members and a student in the Menlo Park City School District were asked to stay home after learning they may have been exposed to COVID-19.
The Ravenswood City School District remains open, though the East Palo Alto district canceled all field trips for March and has suspended nonessential volunteer programs from coming into classrooms.
Universities and colleges
Local colleges and universities are also shifting to online instruction. At Stanford University, which announced on Wednesday two new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, classes will not meet in person until further notice. The university also asked undergraduate students this week to leave campus at the end of winter quarter if possible. Stanford is telling students to plan to return to campus when in-person classes resume, but it's unclear when that will be.
Menlo College is also moving instruction online, noting that at least 12 other colleges and universities have done the same.
As of Thursday morning, March 12, there are now 48 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Santa Clara County; at least 21 of those are community-transmitted cases. Of the 48, one case resulted in a death. The county now has about a quarter of the state's total cases.
Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and Almanac here.