MVLA cancels in-person classes for two weeks

Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District
Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Outside the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District office Friday.

Update: The Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District's decision to close for two weeks has been superceded by the county's announcement that all public schools will close until April 3. For more on that announcement, check out our updated article.

The Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District Board of Trustees voted 5-0 March 13 to cancel all in-person classes, effective Monday (March 16) for two weeks until March 27.

The board gave Superintendent Nellie Meyer the authority to extend the closure if necessary. The decision also could be superseded if the County of Santa Clara Office of Public Health decides schools should close for longer. Thus far, the county has not recommended school closures.

Board president Sanjay Dave said the health and safety of the school community was the board’s primary concern. He cited the recent jump in confirmed cases in Santa Clara County as a factor in the decision. There are now 66 cases of coronavirus in the county, 16 of which are from presumed community transmission.

Dave said the lack of available testing for coronavirus was the “biggest factor” for him in contemplating closing schools. Nationwide, there has been a shortage of tests available for coronavirus, hampering efforts to get an accurate count of those infected.

“Testing is extremely limited,” he said. “We still haven’t heard anything from the government, national or county, (about) when testing will be available for everyone.”

Meyer, who was participating in the meeting via phone, said the district has been working to identify students who lack internet access at home and those who rely on the district for meals. She said the district will work to support those students during the closure.

According to Meyer, administrators will collaborate with teachers to develop a plan for what form instruction will take while students are away from campus. There was already a scheduled teacher work day Tuesday (March 17), and the district plans to use that time to work on plans for remote instruction, Dave said in an interview.

At the meeting, the board debated for how long the board should cancel classes. Trustee Debbie Torok argued the district should close schools through spring break, which runs April 6-10, giving the superintendent the chance to change things as needed. However, other trustees said they wanted to just vote on closing for two weeks, with the understanding that it may be extended.

Teachers’ union president David Campbell spoke at the meeting in support of the board closing the schools and said he’s proud of the district for taking the step.

“I want to commend the board for taking this bold action to protect our community,” Campbell said.

Officials from other districts, including Los Altos School District Superintendent Jeff Baier and Mountain View Whisman School District Superintendent Ayinde Rudolph, were in the audience. Baier spoke at the meeting in support of giving Meyer discretion in how long the closure should last.

Thus far, neither the Los Altos School District nor the Mountain View Whisman School District has officially announced any school closures. However, the Los Altos School District has announced an emergency board meeting at 11 a.m.

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