Due to developing coronavirus concerns, all schools in Santa Barbara County will be closed by Wednesday, March 18, and will not resume classes before the end of March, the Santa Barbara County Office of Education announced Friday.
According to the announcement, the decision was made in conjunction with the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department, which declared a public health emergency Thursday.
Decisions about reopening schools will be determined by the department as the situation in the county develops.
The announcement states that the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department has been in contact with all K-12 schools as well as charter and private schools prior to the decision.
Education Office Superintendent Dr. Susan Salcido said the county recognizes the difficulty of the decision and that they will be working to address impacts on students and families.
“The closure of any school has real consequences beyond the loss of instruction, social connection and cognitive engagement. This was a very difficult decision, which was not made lightly. Our school leaders recognize that this closure has widespread ramifications and are working to address impacts such as nutrition for students who typically receive meals during the school day,” Salcido said.
The status of county schools has evolved rapidly throughout the week. The county education office stated yesterday that after school activities would be limited but that schools would not be closing in the meantime.
Laura Place covers city government for the Santa Maria Times.
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