Coronavirus prompts private school closures, Foothill moves online

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Foothill College is moving many classes online in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Amid a growing coronavirus outbreak in the area, some local private schools are closing their campuses to students and Foothill College is moving many classes online, though its campus will remain open.

Beginning Monday, Foothill and De Anza colleges will replace lecture-only courses with remote instruction, administrators said in an announcement Wednesday. The particular means of instruction will depend on the class and certain courses that require face-to-face interaction, such as laboratory classes, may continue to meet in person.

“We’re being prepared and (campuses are) not shut, we’re just moving virtual,” Foothill College spokesman Simon Pennington said in an interview. “The campuses are open, classes are running, we’re serving our students.”

The colleges are planning for courses to continue online for the remainder of the winter quarter and into the spring quarter, which starts April 6. According to Pennington, the key word is “flexibility” and the colleges are aiming to be responsive to changing conditions and guidance from health officials.

“We’re working under the assumption, obviously, that this is going to take a while to play out,” Pennington said.

However, he added that the colleges will resume normal operations as soon as it’s safe to and will continue to evaluate as time goes on. As of the announcement on March 11, there were no confirmed cases of the virus at either community college.

Some services will remain available on Foothill’s campus, including the food pantry. Mental health resources will remain available, though staff are working to offer services online. Students without access to a computer or the internet at home will be able to use the campus library, although procedures may be put in place to help ensure social distancing.

The college has been planning to make the transition to online learning for several weeks and Pennington said many courses at Foothill are already offered online.

Private schools

Both St. Francis High School in Mountain View and Canterbury Christian School in Los Altos are closing their campuses to students

Canterbury Christian announced in an email to parents Thursday that the campus will close for at least a week, starting on Monday. The plan is for students to return March 23, but the school said that may change. If the campus remains closed in the coming weeks, the school may make arrangements for students to complete coursework at home.

St. Francis announced that its campus will close to students starting on Friday (March 13) for two weeks, with the plan to return March 30, although the closure could be extended. During that time, students will continue classes remotely, using online applications.

“Optimally, we want to have our students on campus,” President Jason Curtis said. “However, we do feel confident that we really can provide a great college preparatory education in a remote learning setting.”

Both St. Francis and Canterbury cited recent U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mitigation strategies as one reason for the closures. The CDC released recommendations for Santa Clara County specifically, because there has been “widespread transmission” locally. The recommendations include that schools should “consider implementing distance learning if feasible.”

Both St. Francis and Canterbury said there have been no confirmed cases of the virus in their school communities.

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