Lincoln Middle School (File photo)

Public schools in Santa Monica and Malibu were ordered Monday to close for three weeks to slow the spread of coronavirus.

The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education voted to keep more than 10,000 students attending 16 schools at home for three weeks effective Tuesday in alignment with guidelines on social distancing from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. The closure will run into a two-week spring break, closing schools, childcare, preschools and adult school for a total of five weeks. Schools will reopen Apr. 20.

“We want to remind the public this is about saving lives in our community,” said school board member Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein.

Across the state, 85% of public school students stayed home Monday as districts closed with assurance from Gov. Gavin Newsom that they would continue to receive funding. The total number of cases in California reached 540 Monday, 94 of which were in Los Angeles County.

Supt. Ben Drati previously said schools would close for one week, from Mar. 16 to Mar. 20. Los Angeles Unified School District is closing schools for two weeks.

While no cases of coronavirus were confirmed at any campus, a parent who may have been exposed to the virus and another individual connected to local schools may have exposed students at Franklin Elementary School and Santa Monica High School. A potential exposure at John Muir Elementary School has been cleared, said SMMUSD spokesperson Gail Pinsker.

Teachers will move lessons online and free, grab-and-go breakfast and lunch will be available for all students at Samohi, McKinley Elementary School, Will Rogers Elementary School and Webster Elementary School. One in four students in the district receive free or reduced lunch.

Drati said educators will be available during school hours for questions through email. Principals will communicate with parents where to pick up materials and how to access online learning.

Families with children in grades six through 12 are being asked to take a short survey regarding access to internet and availability of a device at home.

Parents of children with Individual Education Plans will receive information from their service providers as to the activities that are available to students, Drati said. The district will try to hold scheduled IEPs via phone.

Drati said the district will try to keep as few staff as possible at schools and district offices while maintaining core functions.

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