Local public schools, Santa Monica College and Crossroads School have closed or moved classes online to combat the spread of coronavirus, although there have been no confirmed cases at any Santa Monica school.
As the number of coronavirus cases in Los Angeles County reached 32 Thursday, Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Supt. Ben Drati said students will be dismissed from school Friday and Monday at all campuses in the district, including preschool and childcare programs. Teachers and staff will be required to report to work to prepare for possible school closures next week.
SMMUSD spokesperson Gail Pinsker said the district has cancelled its annual Stairway of the Stars concerts and rehearsals and is preparing to cancel or postpone field trips, overnight trips and other gatherings.
Drati said there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus at SMMUSD schools or in Santa Monica, but students and staff at Franklin Elementary School, John Muir Elementary School and Santa Monica High School may have been exposed to COVID-19.
“We are taking this action to thoroughly clean our schools and evaluate the state of illness in our communities in order to make an informed decision for Tuesday into next week,” Drati said. “We have noticed a higher than normal absentee rate on our campuses today and will take this time to determine if students are ill, with what type of illness or if parents are keeping students home during the coronavirus pandemic.”
As of Thursday afternoon, Los Angeles Unified School District had not announced plans to close schools.
Crossroads School, a private K-12 school in Santa Monica, announced Wednesday night on its website that it would close Thursday and Friday to allow educators to finalize their remote learning plans as the school prepares to move to remote instruction in the weeks ahead. Crossroads said it would notify families by the end of the day Friday if school will reopen Monday or if it will proceed with remote instruction.
“We want to stress that there are no known cases of any Crossroads community member having been exposed to COVID-19,” school leaders said. “We will continue to monitor events over the next two days and remain in close contact (with) local health officials, doctors and other advisers to help us make a socially responsible decision.”
Santa Monica College announced Wednesday that it will transition as many classes as possible to remote instruction by Wednesday, Mar. 18. Classes will be canceled Friday, Mar. 13 through Tuesday, Mar. 17 to provide time for faculty members, staff and students to prepare for the transition to remote instruction.
There are currently no confirmed cases of coronavirus at SMC, the announcement said. The college remains open for business and most college operations will continue during this time. Student Services, computer labs, the library and other resources will remain open.
Select courses that require in-person instruction — for example, some performing arts, lab, and physical education courses — will continue to meet on campus as scheduled. Athletic events will continue whenever possible without spectators.
SMC President Kathryn Jeffery said the college has administered a survey to students today to assess their technology and support needs.
“Many students lack technology resources and SMC seeks to ensure that no students are left behind during this transition,” Jeffery said.
In keeping with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding older adults being at high risk from COVID-19, SMC has temporarily suspended all classes at SMC Emeritus, the college’s program for older adults, according to the announcement. This includes the suspension of all Emeritus-sponsored in-person activities both on- and off-campus.
This post was updated Mar. 12 at 8:07 p.m.