March 20, 2020
Dear Centralia Families,
As you are aware, the Centralia School District held a special meeting on Friday, March 13, 2020 to address our efforts to help “flatten the curve” regarding the spread of COVID-19. In that meeting, our Board of Education declared a State of Emergency and stated that schools would be closed to students from March 16-20, 2020. The week of March 23-27 was already part of our regularly scheduled spring break, with all schools and the District office normally closed during this week. With March 30 quickly approaching, our district had to take into consideration our present status, both as a district and community to determine when to reopen schools.
Please be assured that our District team has been monitoring the rapidly evolving guidance coming from federal, state and local agencies including the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the White House, the State of California Governor’s office, the State Superintendent’s Office, the California Health Care Agency, the Orange County Department of Education and the Orange County Health Care Agency (OCHCA). We remain in close communication with all Orange County superintendents, and together we are discussing how to best address this health crisis for the communities we serve.
Since the emergency Board of Education meeting, held on March 13, 2020, much has changed:
- We continue to monitor the OCHCA website for the latest number of COVID-19 cases in the county. We know that this number is increasing, and all news sources indicate that the current availability of COVID-19 testing will impact the case count.
- California Governor Gavin Newsom has held several press conferences this week. On Tuesday 3/17/2020, he advised parents and students not to expect schools to be back in session in the next few weeks, and possibly not reopen until after the summer break (ABC7, 3/17/2020 California Gov. Gavin Newsom warns parents to be prepared for schools not to open until after summer break). On the morning of 3/19/20, he stated that he anticipated “at least 25.5 million people in California will be infected over an eight-week period” (LA Times, 3/20/2020 Gov. Newsom orders all Californians to stay home as coronavirus cases top 1,000), and on the evening of 3/19/20, he announced a statewide “stay at home order” for all of California, with exceptions to many essential businesses (Executive order N-33-20).
- We are listening to our District staff and local parent community and we know that part of the stress for you is the ambivalence of knowing how long to plan and prepare.
Acting on the information that we currently have and in order to protect the health of our students, staff and community, the Centralia Board of Education has granted me the authority to dismiss students from school from March 30, 2020 to May 8, 2020, with an expected return to school date of May 11, 2020.
If the COVID-19 outbreak situation stabilizes sooner, we are prepared to retract the May 11, 2020 date and welcome back our students and staff to our brick and mortar schools. If Governor Newsom or another official agency extends our dismissal beyond this time, we will review those recommendations, take appropriate action and keep you informed.
The Board of Education and I are fully aware of the challenge this places on our students, staff and families. Please know that the decision has made thoughtfully and with great intent. By sharing this extended dismissal date of May 11, our District staff can engage in thoughtful long-term planning to adjust to distance learning and families can create stronger at-home contingencies to support their children at home, emotionally, physically and educationally. Safety for all is the main driver.
I am aware that many of our families have children in the Anaheim Union High School District (AUHSD) and that they have issued a different school dismissal date. I support their decision, as every District in California is making unique decisions considering the timeline of dismissal based on their community needs.
I know that you will have many questions. My next update will share the upcoming plans to transition to distance learning, including making sure that all students have access to a device from home and internet connectivity. We will communicate information on how we can continue to serve you in a virtual school/District office world.
I want to share with our families how incredibly blessed with are to have such dedicated staff in our District. Everyone is impacted by this dismissal. Everyone is jumping on board to learn, to collaborate and to think critically and creatively. Our District-wide commitment and success to adjust to this temporary reality rests on us all. I can assure you that our staff is being diligent and thoughtful.
I appreciate your patience, trust and understanding as we all navigate the issues surrounding this health crisis and its impact on our everyday life. Stay healthy, stay positive and know that we are looking forward to a return to school.
Please continue to monitor our website www.cesd.us, stay connected with our School Messenger calls and emails, and our social media platforms. Thank you again.
Norma E. Martinez
Centralia Elementary School District