Across the region K-12 schools, colleges and universities are being nimble in their response to growing threats related to local spreading of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
As of Thursday, March 12, 2020 although dozens of K-12 schools had closed and moved to online learning around the state, only one school in the inland region—Murrieta Valley High School—had closed due to the coronavirus and turned to online learning options. That changed on Friday, when County Public Health officials closed all schools in Riverside County as the number of local COVID-19 cases increased to ten.
“To further prevent the spread throughout the county, effective Monday March 16, I am ordering a school closure, not a dismissal, of all Riverside County public schools. This order also applies to preschools, charter schools, private schools and all colleges and universities in Riverside County,” said Riverside County Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser. Classes are expected to resume on April 6.
Kaiser’s announcement also came on the heels of an announcement on Tuesday, March 10th by University of Riverside (UCR) Chancellor Kim Wilcox who declared the campus will remain open for classes through Friday, March 13, but winter quarter finals will not be held in person. In addition, Wilcox noted instruction for the first week of spring quarter, through April 3, will be online-only.
UCR instructors are currently working to assure their courses are online-compatible for at least the first portion of spring quarter as the school braces for the possibility that spring courses may be online-only for longer than the first week.
Wilcox’s actions though admirable were not spontaneous. According to reports it was triggered by an online petition signed by more than 6,000 residents calling on the institution to cancel in-person instruction through spring break and move courses online.
According to Kaiser, “We also now have ten cases in Coachella, up from six on Thursday. Only one of the cases is considered ‘communal spread,’” i.e. the person had not travelled abroad or been in close contact with someone who had travelled to an impacted country.
On Monday, March 16th, it was reported that two individuals have died from the Coronavirus in Coachella Valley.
Other local colleges and universities including Cal State San Bernardino, San Bernardino Community College District, the Riverside Community College District and others continue to monitor guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention closely as well as the direction of government officials; while at the same time preparing to implement necessary changes as warranted to protect students, professors and staff.
All schools, school districts, colleges and universities are providing regular updates on the coronavirus using a variety of mediums ranging from e-mails, notices posted on their websites and through social media.