The inevitable essentially became reality on Tuesday when Governor Gavin Newsom announced at a press conference he didn’t expect schools to be in session for the remainder of the school year.
So that means Porterville Unified School District schools will be closed — for its main educational purposes — until at least April 14 and more likely closer to the end of the school year. The district is on spring break this week but PUSD superintendent Nate Nelson said the district will be ready to carry on with educating its students through distance and online learning on Monday, March 23.
He also said the district will be ready to provide meals for students on Monday, March 23 as well. A bigger challenge will be used the district’s facilities for child care as soon as Monday, but Nelson said plans are being made for that as well.
He also said the Burton School District and PUSD have been working closely on this issue and Burton’s actions will be similar of those of PUSD. As of 7 p.m. Tuesday, the Burton School District hadn’t posted an update on its website as to its plans going forward.
Nelson said PUSD would have an update posted on its website and social media on its plans moving forward possibly by Tuesday night or by today.
As far as providing meals for students, sites throughout the district will provide grab and go lunches. He said as an example one site between Olive Street School, Bartlett Middle School and Porterville High School will be chosen to provide the grab and go lunches and something similar will be done throughout the community.
Nelson said he’s been in contact with Sierra View Medical Center CEO Donna Hefner and City of Porterville City Manager John Lollis concerning child care for their employees. Many health care workers and first responders in the city don’t have access to child care while there working with school not being in session.
Nelson said the first priority will be to mark sure those employees have child care. “Beyond that we’ll see what’s feasible,” he said.
He said the district has still set a target date for April 14 for students to return to school campuses, but admitted that may not be realistic.
He said the shorter schools are out of session the less that will do to “mitigate the impact” of the coronavirus.
But if for whatever reason if PUSD students were able to return to school campuses later in the school year and as soon as April 14, Nelson said the district is ready.
“We’ll be thrilled,” said Nelson about the possibility of school being back in session. “I think all the mechanisms are there if the circumstances allow.”
But Nelson added as far as school not being in session, “we’re probably thinking this is going to go more to the end of the year.”
He said the district also understands not all of its students has access to the technology needed to do their work at home through distance and online learning. “We’ll be ready to respond to those challenges,” Nelsons said.
Rockford School was still in school but suspended classes on Tuesday also setting the optimistic date of April 14 to return. Rockford’s spring break is April 6 through 13. The school is scheduled to resume on Tuesday, April 14.
“Currently there are no known cases at Porterville Unified or any connection to Porterville Unified or to the Rockford School District,” stated Rockford superintendent Caron Borba in a letter to those in the district.
But Borba went on to state: “Rockford School has voluntarily suspended classes beginning Tuesday, March 17 through Monday, April 13.”
Borba also stated students have been given assignments for this week’s work. The work is due on Monday, March 23 between 7 and 10 a.m. which is the end of the third quarter.
“It is important that all student work is submitted on that day,” Borba stated. “Staff will collect the work at that time.”
Borba then stated staff will provide work for March 23 to April 3 and that work will be due on Tuesday, April 14.
“We understand that students will not have access to certain programs that the school has to offer, such as Accelerated Reader, so a plan is in place to accommodate for unforeseen circumstances,” Borba stated.
Borba said all events on the school’s calendar are tentative. “These may be changed as needed based on the current situation in the nation. We will make every effort to accommodate or reschedule the event(s) if possible,” Borba stated.
Borba stated Blackboard Connect Messages can be received by sending a text to 23177 and then typing START 1011866.
School lunches will be delivered to the Village Garden bus route pick up site and the Poplar drop-off site at 11:15 a.m. each day until Friday, April 3.A drive-thru to pick up lunches will be offered at 11:15 a.m. Daily at Rockford School for families who don’t live in those areas.
Information and reminders will be sent out via Blackboard Connect and be posted on the school website, rockfordschooldistrict.org. The school office will remain open, but those who who need to come to the office should call in advance, 784-5406.
“Please understand that we have everyone’s best interest at the forefront of every decision being made,” Borba stated. “These decisions are made with great care and consideration for all involved to be able to continue to provide instruction and care to all of our children.
“We will get through this as a school community. Thank you for trusting us to do our jobs and educate your children either at school or through distance learning.”
PC provided an update on its plans. PC is also on spring break this week and will also take next week to prepare for its students to participate in online learning and other alternative learning formats to begin on March 30.
While there will be no classes on the PC campus, PC isn’t implementing a campus closure, either.
PC’s Child Development Center is closed through March 30 but the school is looking at the viability of opening it throughout the rest of the semester after March 30.
The school has provided a complete summary of how it plans to move forward and how it plans to provide all of its services on its website, portervillecollege.edu.
Lindsay Unified School District will also suspend its classes beginning today. The district has also set an optimistic return date for April 14. Those who are in need of Grab and Go lunches should go to the district’s website, lindsay.k12.ca.us, or the district’s Facebook page.
Continued updates will also be provided on the district’s website, Facebook page and via automated phone messages.