Santa Cruz County school closures have become a contentious issue, with several superintendents having already canceled classes or switched to remote instruction for this storm.
Pajaro Valley Unified in Watsonville, which serves both Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties, has closed schools that fall within areas subject to flood advisory warnings. They will notify families should more sites need to close on Monday.
Pajaro Valley Unified School District
Pajaro Valley Unified School District in Watsonville is the county’s largest. Due to flooding and evacuation orders, its schools have been temporarily closed; however, students will resume classes on Wednesday as the district will provide alternative instruction and keep parents up-to-date on its status.
The district is also implementing a digital learning program for its students, giving each one access to one device via 15,000 Chromebooks and 1000 hot spots distributed. Furthermore, preparations have begun for returning in-person classes in September; Superintendent Michelle Rodriguez and Rolling Hills Middle School Principal Ivan Alcaraz recently participated in a webinar hosted by EdSource to discuss progress thus far in their district.
PVUSD communicated frequently with families during the first three weeks of COVID-19’s closure, using email and texts in English, Spanish, and Mixteco bajo – an indigenous Mexican dialect – for messages sent out from its communication department. At this time, district leaders worked on setting distance learning expectations as well as revising grading policies; additionally, administrators began tracking student distance learning engagement.
PVUSD created an administrative team capable of supporting curriculum and instructional planning as part of their efforts to form a strong administrative team, creating the position of deputy superintendent that focused on curriculum planning and instructional management. This step followed the Grand Jury recommendation.
CalMatters used the California Public Records Act to compile 17 years’ worth of these requests to compile school-site-level data on closings.
Santa Cruz City Schools
Safety for students, staff, and families is of utmost importance; therefore the district will continue to implement social distancing practices when safe, and reopen schools when it is safe to do so. We believe this approach is the most effective way of stopping the virus’s spread and limiting future cases; all Santa Cruz County Superintendents as well as public health officers prioritize health and well-being concerns for our students, teachers, and staff as their top priorities.
The District is monitoring the situation closely and making every effort to keep families informed. Classes on Tuesday will take place through emergency remote and online instruction; school sites will reopen when it is safe to do so and the District will inform parents immediately of this change.
Tomorrow, January 16, all Santa Cruz City Schools will be closed, except Mountain and Happy Valley Elementary students, who can still attend in their usual locations on Wednesday. Bonny Doon and Pacific Elementary schools may reopen on Thursday but may close depending on weather conditions.
On Friday, schools and the District Office will reopen. Residents in affected neighborhoods can access their homes using either Carlton or Caserly Roads; please exercise extreme caution in this area.
Due to recent budget crises, public school districts throughout the U.S. were forced to implement significant cost-cutting measures such as cutting teacher salaries, eliminating programs, or closing school buildings. Though necessary for managing budget issues, such measures come at the cost of those students who require services most urgently.
San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District
California was hit hard Tuesday, as storm-caused flooding, power line outages, and mudslides created havoc across the state. At least 178 schools with 102,000 students closed due to this storm according to California Education Department calculations, though this could increase as more districts report closures to them.
School districts are responsible for making decisions regarding whether and when they close; however, the county emergency operations center works closely with districts to communicate closure information to them. Staffed 24/7 and keeping an eye on weather conditions across the county as well as monitoring them over social media; it can also notify members of the public via social media about closure information.
Redwood and Quail Hollow Elementary schools were closed due to declining enrollment and budget restrictions, prompting a task force of representatives from each of the schools involved to consider closing them; the Superintendent’s School Closure Committee (SSCC) met formally eight times and held additional ad hoc sessions before making its recommendation to close them to the board of education.
Parents of SLVUSD students are strongly advised to monitor and set limits for their online activity, especially over summer vacation. Teachers will not be able to collect Chromebooks checked out from school libraries during that period; however, graduating students may return them with a school official present.
The District is currently assessing the damage from this weekend’s rainstorm and will make decisions based on this assessment to take appropriate steps for tomorrow’s school day. We will update this page as more information becomes available, so if you would like to help our mission please donate today!
Soquel Union Elementary School District
Students were left without power after being trapped indoors due to the heavy storm that battered the county, leaving many unprotected at home or school. Officials hoped school districts could remain open, but many did not have sufficient enrollments and closing could cost each one over $5,000 in lost state funding per student.
Schools that did manage to remain open relied heavily on financial assistance from their communities; for example, Capitola City Council made use of its reserves in order to cover the expenses related to funding the only elementary school within its boundaries and thus keeping it operational.
Other districts increased enrollment by investing additional funds in teacher salaries and offering unique programs that draw students away from competing public schools, like Santa Cruz City School District’s plans to open a high school with an emphasis on video production as well as expanding its preschool program to reach younger age ranges.
But downsizing can be challenging and costly, leading to conflicts among parents and community members alike. Additionally, districts that predominantly serve students of color typically receive less local and state support compared to their white counterparts.
One teacher questioned why the district would make its decision about returning students without receiving more information from the county about how quickly the virus is spreading. Another noted that school board meetings are being held using Zoom rather than in person, which may not be safe for young children who might be close. A third voiced concerns regarding online schooling options not meeting students with learning disabilities or behavioral issues who need support. These concerns will be discussed further at a meeting scheduled on Wednesday.
Live Oak Unified School District
Flooding and mudslides that have struck Santa Cruz County foothills and valleys have forced several school districts to cancel classes or close early, prompting police in Felton to go door-to-door to evacuate residents living near rivers and creeks that have overflowed. I-580 near 35th Avenue has also been shut down both ways while commuters are being diverted onto 880.
Live Oak Unified School District in Morgan Hill, with over 3,000 students, shut its doors Monday due to flood and mudflow warnings and expected to reopen Thursday. Students living near a stream that feeds into Pajaro River were sent home and three single school districts from Santa Clara County — Bonny Doon Mountain Elementary, Sequoia Union Elementary, and Sequoia Union Elementary — closed due to flooding, mudflows, and power outages in these communities.
UC Santa Cruz implemented emergency remote instruction on Monday and has announced that Tuesday will also be an “outreach day”. Other private schools that have either changed instruction or closed include Monte Vista Christian, Twin Lakes Christian, Mount Madonna School, and Orchard School among many others.
EdSource tracks school closures based on confirmed cases of coronavirus infection, although its reporting is optional and some districts don’t update regularly. Still, this information can provide families with important guidance as they decide whether or not their children attend class.
Schools serving primarily low-income students tend to receive far less local and state support than similar schools that primarily enroll white students. Discover this disparity for yourself, and help close it by supporting teacher projects on DonorsChoose.