Santa Barbara County Schools to Close Monday for Coronavirus Prevention
By edhat staff
All schools from Kindergarten through grade 12 within Santa Barbara County will close beginning Monday, March 16 to prevent a potential spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
There are currently no confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in Santa Barbara County, according to the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department (PHD).
“The closure of any school has real consequences beyond the loss of instruction, social connection and cognitive engagement. This was a very difficult decision, which was not made lightly,” said Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Susan Salcido. “Our school leaders recognize that this closure has widespread ramifications and are working to address impacts such as nutrition for students who typically receive meals during the school day.”
PHD declared a local health emergency on Thursday evening in response to an increased spread of COVID-19 across the country and the Governor of California’s Declared State of Emergency and mass gathering guidance.
During the press conference, local officials stated schools will remain open but in less than 24 hours they have appeared to change course.
A message sent to school staff and parents stated, "each district has the flexibility to begin cancelling Monday, March 16, with full closure no later than Wednesday, March 18. Santa Barbara Unified schools are closing beginning Monday, March 16, through (at least) Friday, April 3. Our staff will still report to work on Monday and Tuesday."
“We support the decision to close public schools. While there are no confirmed cases at this time, this demonstration of social distancing will help to slow the spread of the virus and minimize the public health impacts in our community,” said Santa Barbara County Public Health Director Van Do-Reynoso.
Social distancing refers to a conscious effort to reduce close contact between people to hopefully slow community transmission of the virus. It recommends at least 6 feet of space between one another and avoiding large gatherings.
The Santa Barbara Unified School District will offer bagged meals for children 18 years old and younger that may be picked up between 11:30 am to 1:00 pm at the following sites:
- Adams Elementary
- Franklin Elementary
- Harding Elementary
- Monroe Elementary
- Dos Pueblos High School
- San Marcos High School
- Santa Barbara High School
- La Cumbre Junior High
- La Colina Junior High
- Goleta Valley Junior High
Parents and caregivers should plan on driving their children to any of these sites and picking up meals from their car curbside. Alternatively, they can walk up to the meal cart to receive their meal to take home but hildren must be present in order to receive the meal.
Local schools join UC Santa Barbara who announced on Tuesday it is transitioning classes to remote instruction for the remainder of Winter Quarter and the start of the Spring Quarter through at least the end of April.
[Editor's Note: Updated information has been added regarding meals for children outside of school]