By DYLAN DU and VINCENT WOO
News Section Editor and News Copy Editor
Update: In a district-wide announcement on Tuesday, March 24, the Irvine Unified School District (IUSD) Board of Education publicized their decision to extend the school closures to Friday, May 1 at the earliest in accordance with the advice of Orange County public health officials.
The official statement can be found at https://iusd.org/article/iusd-services-continue.
IUSD has announced as of March 13, 2020 at 1:10 p.m. that all IUSD schools and facilities will be closed effective Monday, March 16, with a tentative return date of April 6. This announcement was released shortly after an emergency meeting on Friday, March 13 by the IUSD Board of Education on March 13 at 12:30 p.m. and adds IUSD to the growing list of school closures to address the coronavirus threat.
A school closure of this scale and level is historically unprecedented, having never occurred since the establishment of IUSD. It is not known as of now if instruction will be moved entirely online in this shutdown, but the IUSD has planned on utilizing March 16 and 17 to continue ongoing planning efforts.
This action is a continuation of IUSD policy, with Superintendent Terry Walker announcing in a letter on March 12 that all school-related public gatherings would be suspended in accordance with new state guidelines announced by CA Governor Gavin Newsom, including assemblies, field trips, open houses and performances.
Many other schools have also shut down across Southern California amid fears of a coronavirus outbreak among the local community.
So far, school districts in Los Angeles, Long Beach, San Diego, Santa Monica-Malibu, Conejo Valley, and Ventura have all announced closures of their schools effective Monday, March 16. Most districts have set tentative return dates for late March and early April, with the option to extend their closures depending on the situation in the future.
Nearly all major colleges in Southern California have suspended in-person instruction indefinitely, including UC Irvine, UCLA, USC, Cal State Long Beach, among others.
Private schools, such as Crean Lutheran and Sage Hill have already cancelled in-person classes, favoring online instruction to minimize risk of transmission of COVID-19.
The move to bar students from attending schools in Southern California is part of a nation-wide push to cancel classes. Several state governments including Maryland, Ohio, Kentucky, New Mexico, and Michigan, have ordered for the closure of all schools. Major metropolitan areas such as Atlanta, Denver, Seattle, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. have ordered the shuttering of all schools there.
More information to be found at IUSD.org or on UHS Sword and Shield’s COVID-19 tab.
This article was updated with the information available as of Tuesday, March 24, 2020.