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Santa Maria-Bonita orders employees to stay home, suspends supply distributions

Santa Maria-Bonita orders employees to stay home, suspends supply distributions

Local school districts are planning to continue distributing meals for students while also following instructions to keep school staff at home following Gov. Gavin Newsom's statewide shelter-at-home order Thursday. 

The Santa Maria-Bonita School District also has suspended supply distributions to families.

Meal distributions were canceled Friday but will resume Monday, according to district spokeswoman Maggie White, with school officials revising plans over the weekend to keep in accordance with the governor's order.

All other supply distributions, including Chromebooks, will be suspended for the time being. 

District employees have been distributing meals and Chromebooks for at-home learning throughout the week, with 14,000 Chromebooks and over 30,000 meals given out from Monday through Thursday.

The announcement about the distribution suspension and shelter-at-home order was scheduled to be sent to families Thursday night but, due to an error, was never sent, causing confusion among district families, spokeswoman Maggie White said. 

"The school district has determined why there is a lot of confusion today, Friday, for our families and students. An automated call message which was supposed to have been sent out late Thursday night (9:35 p.m.) about the school office and lunch closures today was accidentally not sent to families. It was prepared but sent to the wrong group of people. We will be sending last night's phone message to all families today. We apologize for the error and the confusion that it has caused," White said on the district Facebook page. 

An announcement from Santa Maria-Bonita School District Superintendent Luke Ontiveros was sent to parents around 11 a.m. Friday.

Ontiveros stated that the statewide order last night presented a conflict for the district, as school officials had planned to continue utilizing available staff to distribute further resources for families following a memorandum with the California School Employees Association. 

However, due to the statewide order, the district will suspend supply distributions as of Friday and implement the following guidelines beginning Monday, March 23, until further notice:

  • All schools will be closed, as well as school office and information functions. Each school will release one phone number that can be reached for questions until noon each day. 
  • Certificated and classified employees will be in paid status and working from home, with the exception of emergency service and payroll processing positions at the direction of their supervisor.

The district is currently developing technology plans to assist those with technology issues, as well as district families who have not yet received a Chromebook. 

"While I understand that there are students still in need of materials/resources, we will address that issue as part of the technology needs plan, which is inclusive of a technology hotline that will incorporate feedback around innovations that are developed through our collective experience," Ontiveros said. 

Santa Maria-Bonita district students were able to receive meals Friday at Santa Maria Joint Union district high schools, including Pioneer Valley and Santa Maria High School.

The Joint Union High School District also will continue to distribute meals to students next week despite the shelter-at-home order, district spokesman Kenny Klein said. 

"On Monday, the SMJUHSD Food Service Department will continue to provide walk-up and drive-thru pick-up lunch and breakfast meal service to all students from pre-Kinder to 12th grade, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at all of our comprehensive high schools — Santa Maria, Pioneer Valley, and Ernest Righetti — as long as our schools are closed," Klein said.

Laura Place covers city government for the Santa Maria Times.

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Santa Maria City Reporter

Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Laura Place covers city government, policy and elections in Santa Maria and Santa Barbara County. Follow her on Twitter @itslaurasplace

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