By Juan Reyes
The San Benito County Office of Education is anticipating that schools may now be closed longer than previously expected due to rising concerns of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Superintendents from each district and the San Benito County Office of Education on Friday released a statement recommending to extend school closures through May 1.
However, each district still needs to hold formal meetings and approve the resolution.
Adam Breen, public information officer at San Benito High School District, said in an email that the Board of Trustees called a special meeting for Tuesday to approve a resolution to extend the school closure.
“Superintendents from each district and the San Benito County Office of Education met Friday morning and recommended extending the existing closure to prioritize the safety and wellness of students, family and school personnel,” Breen said.
District Superintendents and the San Benito County Office of Education are working collaboratively to provide a curriculum—online or hard packet—and educational activities so students can continue their education.
On Monday and Tuesday, San Benito High will distribute alternative paper packets to students who have indicated that they don’t have access to online distance learning.
Distribution of packets will be conducted through a drive-through system, from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. in the Baler Alley parking lot.
Details regarding how, when and where students will be submitting their completed packets back to the school will be provided early next week.
San Benito High School prepared a distance learning informational mailer that will be sent home to all families. It will also be posted online and shared through the daily newsletter.
On Wednesday, superintendents from each district in San Benito County and Public Health held a conference call to receive a status update about COVID-19 cases in San Benito County.
Krystal Lomanto, County Superintendent of Schools, along with the 12 school district superintendents signed a statement.
The statement read, “As educational leaders, we are committed to ongoing collaboration in the best interest of all our students. We appreciate your patience and cooperation as we continue to keep our school community safe. We are grateful to community members throughout our county for their tremendous efforts during these challenging times.”
As of today, the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University reported 13 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in San Benito County, 12 of which are active and one death.
Johns Hopkins listed 94,238 confirmed cases and 1,438 deaths in the U.S.
The Office of Education said the safety and health of students, families and school personnel continue to be the highest priorities for all San Benito County schools and districts.
“We are committed to provide accurate, timely information to our families about school closures and the education of students in our community,” said Lomanto in the statement.
The 12 school districts were scheduled to be closed until April 10 except for Aromas-San Juan Unified and Panoche Elementary School districts, which were set to open April 17.
But all of that could change next week.
The Office of Education is asking for students and families to follow the County’s Public Health Officer’s directive to stay home and practice social distancing.
“Protecting public health requires a community-wide response, and we need the help of families to remain united in our response,” Lomanto said. San Benito High School District and other districts within the county will also continue to provide meals for students Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.