East Bay schools increase campus cleaning, other safety protocols as threat of coronavirus grows

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (KGO) -- In Mr. Davis's third period economics class at Northgate High School in Walnut Creek, the discussion is focused on market forces. But with cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer desk at the front of the classroom, it's hard not to be focused on the current coronavirus.

"There is a lot more hand sanitizers around. We are making sure we can keep those soap dispensers full in every single one of the restrooms," says Northgate Principal Michael McAlister. "We want to take great care, be conscious, be aware of what's going on, but also don't want to panic and overreact."

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Principal McAlister says since the outbreak, the school has put in procedures to keep students safe. He says the custodial staff are wiping down high-use areas more often. And a there is big emphasis on personal hygiene.

"Wash your hands. Number one, just wash your hands! And make sure you stay home if you're sick," he says.

And if the situation forces schools to close, he says classes will move online.



"Of course, there is no substitute for in person education, but that we could actually continue with instruction online, would be our hope," he explains.

The nearby Walnut Creek School District announced on Monday that all assemblies and field trips have been canceled for the next two weeks.

Like other districts, Oakland Unified, which has more than 50,000 thousand students, is also doing more to keep schools clean and students safe.

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At the elementary school level, part of that includes finding ways to keep younger students in smaller groups.

"Certainly, little kids maybe hang out a little closer to each other. So, we are a lot more cognizant of how the kids are playing," says district spokesperson John Sasaki, adding, "We are being more cognizant of about the kinds of things they are sharing with each other (like) clothing or food items, letting them know, right now is not a good time to be sharing anything."

Another issue in Oakland is if schools are forced to close, not all of their students have online access. As such, the district is working on plans on how to get homework to students, especially older high school students with graduation just a few months away.

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