The LOSD school board voted to close all schools for the week of Mar. 16 in an attempt to contain the spread of novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.
The week of Mar. 23 will continue to be spring break, as scheduled. Students will resume classes on Monday, Mar. 30. The board reiterated that they will continue to communicate with public health officials throughout the school closure.
The board passed the resolution in an emergency meeting on Thursday, Mar. 12. The meeting was closed to the public, but available to watch live on the school board website.
Several members supported closing schools for fear of flooding hospitals in the event of a massive outbreak, as well as putting older teachers and members of the community at risk. Additionally, other members remarked that LOSD currently has ten unused school closure days scheduled into the calendar that are usually reserved for snow days. This resolution will use five of them.
School board member Kirsten Aird, who has a background in public health, dissented the resolution, claiming, “If the district’s going to [close the schools,] they better do it right.” She noted that, nationally, students have not been hospitalized due to COVID-19 at the same rate that older, more susceptible members of the population have.
Other members expressed concerns that families who rely on free or reduced-price lunches would be left without a crucial resource. LOHS student representative Charlie Liu proposed keeping the cafeteria open during the school closure for these students, but no plan was finalized on how to accommodate food-insecure families. District superintendent Dr. Lora de la Cruz noted potential options and plans to meet with her staff to search for potential solutions.
The decision comes the same day as Oregon Gov. Kate Brown prohibited gatherings of over 250 people to slow the spread of the virus.
This is an ongoing story; check back for updates as we receive more information.