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Martinez Unified schools to close for 3 weeks in response to coronavirus

Martinez Junior High School is one of seven schools that will be closed in the Martinez Unified School District. (Courtesy photo)

Following Friday morning’s decision to close Mt. Diablo Unified School District schools, Martinez Unified School District leaders moved to close that district’s seven schools starting this coming week to help minimize transmission of the COVID-19 virus.

At a special meeting Friday morning, Martinez district board members voted unanimously to shut down classes and other student activities at the district’s four elementary schools, one junior high school, two high schools and adult and preschool programs starting Monday and continuing through April 3.

The district’s spring break then runs April 6-10.

“We will continue to assess the situation, adapting to directives from federal and state agencies,” Martinez district Superintendent CJ Cammack said at Friday’s meeting.

Martinez district Superintendent CJ Cammack.

The executive board of the Martinez Education Association, the district’s teachers union, was set to meet sometime Friday afternoon. Brenda Leal, MEA’s president, told the school board Friday that union leaders will plan their actions after the board makes its call.

“We want to make sure that we’re supporting students, and each other, and we need to know what the district wants from us,” said Leal, adding that the information about the board’s decision “needs to get out to our members.”

Cammack said arrangements are being worked out to prepare school lunches over the closure period at an off-site kitchen for parents to pick up. Federal requirements that normally require such meals to be eaten on premises will be waived during the closure, Cammack said.

Martinez educators will begin creating student assignments Cammack described as “maintenance of learning” work, to minimize regression during the time off.

A.J. Kaur, MEA’s vice president, said the work could well involve a combination of “paper learning and ‘distance’ learning, using technology.”

Those plans, she said, are expected to be put in place over the next several days.

Mt. Diablo is one of the largest districts in the East Bay, with 31 elementary schools, nine middle schools, five high schools and various alternative and adult programs in Concord, Pleasant Hill, Bay Point, Clayton and parts of Martinez, Walnut Creek and Pittsburg.

“We have been diligent to implement preventative measures and to follow the guidance of our county’s public health authorities,” Mt. Diablo district Superintendent Robert Martinez said in an email statement Friday morning.

Illustration of the coronavirus. (Rendering via the CDC)

“However, in an abundance of caution, I have decided to formally close schools starting (Tuesday).” Monday is a scheduled Professional Development Day for district teachers, and students were not scheduled to be in class that day.

The duration of the Mt.Diablo district closure was not immediately specified.

The Mt. Diablo school board has a special meeting scheduled to start at 2 p.m. Tuesday to discuss more specifics about the closures, Martinez said, as well as plans to maintain some services for students during the formal closure.

The San Ramon Valley Unified School District, another large East Bay district, board has a 3 p.m. meeting scheduled to discuss a potential coronavirus-related schools closure. And schools in both the Pittsburg Unified and Antioch Unified school districts have announced coronavirus-related closures; Pittsburg said that district’s schools will be closed for two weeks starting Monday.

A note on the Antioch district’s website says all of that district’s schools will close starting Monday, with plans to resume following spring break on March 30.

“However, we ask that families have a contingency plan for the week of March 30th should it be necessary to keep schools closed,” the Antioch Unified note said.