Coronavirus Impact: 6 Bay Area school districts extend temporary closures into May

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Like hundreds more in the Bay Area, Oakland schools like Lincoln Elementary will stay empty for at least another five weeks. On Wednesday, school districts in six Bay Area counties announced it has extended its temporary school closures.

"It's certainly tough for everybody, our students, our staff," said Oakland Unified School District Spokesman John Sasaki. "This is not an easy situation for anybody. We know that, but this is in the best interest of ensuring that we can actually stop the spread of coronavirus," he said.

In a press release from the Oakland Unified School District on March 25, Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell announced in collaboration with the Alameda County Office of Education (ACOE), the Alameda County Public Health Department and those in five other Bay Area counties, that the decision has been made to extend the closure for an additional month. The new targeted date for reopening all District schools is May 4.

In Oakland, that means the district's 50,000 students will continue to stay home with their familes. San Francisco officials announced the same length of closure for that city's 57,000 public school students, reopening district on May 4, 2020.



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The extended closure also applies to students in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.



Shuttered school buildings are more of a burden for students in some districts than others. In more affluent areas, a high percentage of the student population has access to wifi, computers and laptops at home.

But in places like Oakland, many of the students do not.

"We miss our kids," said Bethany Meyer, a special education teacher in Oakland. "We're teachers so we're experts at meeting teachers where we are. So when we all come back, we're going to tell the kids how much we missed them and how glad we are to see them, and we're going to be ready to teach."

Approximately 70 percent of OUSD students receive free or reduced-price lunch. That program will continue along with the extended school closure. Some students are receiving up to three meals per day.

Other districts around the Bay Area are also offering their students meal service during the closures. Details are on the websites of each of the school districts.

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Overall, most parents and students are feeling the impacts of extended school closures until May. Students are worried they're going to miss out on graduations and parents are now having to work and teach.

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Most parents and students are feeling the impacts of extended school closures until May. Students are worried they're going to miss out on graduations and parents are now having to work and teach.



Yamilet Serna, an eighth-grade student at Martin Luther King Junior Academic Middle School in San Francisco is worried she won't be able to have her eighth-grade graduation.

"I was looking forward to my graduation that we might not have, I was excited," Serna said.

MAINTAINING LEARNING: Free educational resources for kids stuck at home during COVID-19

Now Serna is trying to adjust to online learning all while helping her brother who's in first grade and her younger sister that's in seventh grade.

"It's a little stressful because I have to be around, help them with work, and I have to be all over the place," Serna said.

She said her mom is also feeling the pressure having all three of them home.

"She doesn't really know what to do, she just comes from work stressed, helps my brother with homework, help me with homework, help my sister," Serna said.

Kara Gardner, Associate Dean of Partnership Teaching and Learning at Minerva, is an online teaching expert. She recommends parents and students create their own space to work apart from each other.

"Everyone will have varying degrees of space and privacy in their homes and I think we need to be thoughtful about that," Gardner said. "Not everyone has a separate room they can work in or that their children can work in. If you can just set up a work station for each person, and have it be as far apart as possible, use headphones people can be listening in to their own classrooms."

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She said getting organized can allow you to do something you can take control over.

"Be thoughtful that it's not going to be perfect but being a little bit organized really does go a long way in this kind of a situation," Gardner said.

Gardner also said students are resilient, and given the opportunity they will catch up.

"They'll get through it, they'll get caught up and try and not be too overwhelmed. It's really difficult, it's a hard time. Given the opportunity, many kids will catch up," Gardner said.

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