School construction continues amid pandemic

School Construction
Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Construction at Mountain View High School, above, and at Los Altos High can continue during the coronavirus pandemic because the district’s board of trustees designated it an “essential governmental function.”

Although the new stay-at-home order issued last week bans most residential and commercial construction, local high school construction will be able to move forward.

The Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District Board of Trustees voted unanimously Friday to designate its construction projects an “essential governmental function,” which will allow the work to continue.

The updated shelter-in-place order issued by the county last week limits many types of construction but allows public works projects to continue “if specifically designated as an Essential Governmental Function by the lead governmental agency.”

Construction of new classroom buildings is currently underway at both Mountain View and Los Altos high schools, along with construction of a new auxiliary gym at Los Altos High. Board president Sanjay Dave said in an interview that rising student enrollment makes completing the projects necessary.

“Even based on organic growth, we are going to have more students than we have classrooms, so we need to get those classrooms built,” Dave said.

The district has seen enrollment grow substantially in recent years, up approximately 700 students over the past five years.

Associate Superintendent of Business Services Mike Mathiesen similarly said continuing with the projects is essential because the district expects to have more students as time goes on.

“Education is our core mission, but housing students and having the facilities they can learn in is critical to that,” Mathiesen said.

Although construction will continue, the county requires that a social distancing protocol be posted at the construction sites. Workers are to maintain at least 6 feet of separation from one another and have been told not to come to work if sick, among other safeguards.

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