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HBUHSD closes schools amid COVID-19 pandemic

Fountain Valley High School, a HBUHSD site, will be closed down for two weeks beginning Monday, March 16 due to COVID-19 precautions. (Photo by Justin Hsieh).

The Huntington Beach Union High School District (HBUHSD) Board of Trustees voted to close all schools beginning today through Friday to minimize potential transmission of the novel coronavirus.

“We do not have any presumptive or confirmed cases of the new COVID-19 virus in our schools, but we are taking this step to protect public health,” said HBUHSD Superintendent Clint Harwick in the announcement posted on the district’s newsroom website.

The decision was made in response to President Donald Trump declaring a national emergency over COVID-19 earlier today.

“We are actively monitoring the situation and following guidelines from the California Department of Public Health, Orange County Health Care Agency , and the Orange County Department of Education,” Harwick wrote.

Harwick suggested students “stay home and minimize social contacts as much as possible to keep caregivers and adult family members safe.”

Teachers will not attend school through Wednesday for personal time, according to an email sent out by the teacher’s union, District Education Association. All-staff meetings at each site will be held on Thursday in order to discuss updated distance learning plans and other new information.

DEA reminded teachers that the Board of Trustees and Harwick intend those three days “be used as personal time to adjust to the regional closures affecting [their] families.”

DEA also included expectations for classes during this next week.

The email stated that “the district does not expect teachers to use these three days to plan for classes or assign work to students.”

The district, along with state and local officials, has not determined whether the closure will affect the length of the school year, according to the email.

“I think that the Fountain Valley students’ education won’t be greatly impacted and once we know that we can absolutely provide a safe environment, we can bring everyone back,” Assistant Principal of Supervision and Athletics Elliot Skolnick said.

Orange County Superintendent Al Mijares suggested that all public schools be closed for a minimum of two weeks. This decision was made after a conference call with 27 school districts’ representatives earlier today.

Surrounding school districts also decided to close, including school districts in Los Angeles, IrvineOrangeGarden Grove and more.

Many events and activities have been postponed or canceled, including all athletic events, Springfest, 8th Grade Parent Night and the SAT.

“The [Center for Disease Control and Prevention] predicts that the next eight weeks will be incredibly rough, so closing school and stopping events right now will help slow the spread,” junior Eric Pham said. “I didn’t think it would reach a point like this even at the beginning of the week.”

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