By Ed Martin, Editor
Lemoore High School main building.
Lemoore High School main building.

Lemoore’s area school districts appear to be planning for possible school closures related to the proliferation of the coronavirus. The Lemoore High School District sent an email message to its staff today (March 12) asking them to prepare for a possible school closure.

Such a closure may affect everything from testing and instruction to local high school athletics.

The message was forwarded to the school’s teaching staff by the school’s principal, Rodney Brumit: “In preparation for a possible school closure, we need to have assignments ready on google classroom for two weeks,” stated Brumit.  “Additionally, have paper assignments ready as well for those students without Wi-Fi or chrome books at home.

“Please start preparing your lessons in case we have to close our doors due to the coronavirus issues. Due to organizations like the NBA canceling their season and the NCAA having their basketball tournament without spectators, I think this is a plausible situation that could occur at LHS and (I) want us to be ready.

“We are following the current CDC, The California Department of Health, and Governor Newsome’s state of emergency guidelines and are evaluating all field trips and school activities. There will be changes and cancelations to events. Groups affected will be contacted. 

“Ms. (Debbie) Muro (Lemoore High School District Superintendent) has done a great job trying to navigate the constant new and changing information. It is very difficult to find balance. We need to continue to stay calm and professional with our students and parents who look to us for guidance.

“I want us to be prepared. I appreciate you all for your constant dedication to Lemoore and its students.  I am available to answer any questions you may have,”  he concluded.

The area superintendents appear to be collaborating in anticipation of further actions needed to deal with the troublesome virus. As of Thursday, the Kings County Health Department has yet to announce a coronavirus case in Kings County.

However, the virus has already had a significant impact in Lemoore. On Wednesday, West Hills College District officials, in light of the announced pandemic, and based on a recommendation by the Kings County Health Department, made the difficult decision to prohibit spectators from attending the March 12-15 California Community College Basketball championships, scheduled for West Hills College Lemoore’s Golden Eagle Arena.

Unfortunately, today college officials decided to cancel the community college championships.  

The virus has also hindered local athletic events, said Lemoore High School Athletic Director Brady Holaday. “Until further notice, Lemoore High School has canceled athletic contests with the exception of WYL (West Yosemite League) events,” he told The Leader earlier in the day. However, later in the day, the league's schools decided to suspend sports altogether so as of today ((March 12) sports at all WYL schools have been suspended.

“This includes tournaments we are hosting as well as tournaments that require travel,” he said. “This includes baseball, softball, golf, track tennis, and swimming. This will continue until further notice.”

Holaday volunteered that the school’s softball team was scheduled to travel to Miramonte for a tournament. “We canceled that. Golf was supposed to go to Tulare Western, and we canceled that.”

In other recent developments, a celebration scheduled on March 13 for the Lemoore Elementary School District’s Liberty Middle School has been postponed due to coronavirus concerns.

Liberty Middle School was recently recognized by Solution Tree for its sustained success in raising student achievement, and students, staff, and district officials were ready to celebrate the award on March 13.

“As you are probably aware, we are continuing to monitor vigilantly the updates related to the Coronavirus,” said Lemoore Elementary School District Superintendent Cheryl Hunt.  “Due to recent developments, we will be postponing our PLC celebration planned for tomorrow. This decision is made in order to continue to maintain the safety of our students and staff in relation to recommendations provided regarding community gatherings,” she said. 

 “Thank you for your understanding as we are making these difficult decisions. We are very proud of the accomplishments of our staff and look forward to honoring our students and staff at a later date.”

Hunt continues to update students’ families as to the district’s efforts concerning the coronavirus. “Our district continues to assess the heightened awareness of this virus and implement precautionary measures.”

She said that such measures include deep cleaning practices, which include disinfecting countertops, doorknobs, light switches, and other high-touch surfaces. The custodial staff has been provided with the most advanced cleaning solutions, tools, and methods to limit the spread of bacteria and viruses.

“Additionally, we remain vigilant regarding reminding our students about frequent hand washing and using hand sanitizing procedures.”

Schools seem to be taking a heavy hit in recent days. The California Interscholastic Federation announced today (March 12) that the CIF State Basketball Championship games planned for this weekend in Sacramento, have been canceled.

Hanford’s Sierra Pacific girls’ basketball was scheduled to play on Saturday in the championship round. The National Basketball Association (NBA) also announced Thursday that it is suspending its season after one of its basketball players tested positive for the coronavirus.

Even a statewide speech competition was canceled due to coronavirus concerns.  Several Lemoore High School students qualified to attend the California High School Speech Association State Championships and the Second Annual California High School Speech Association Middle School State Championship.

School activities like Color Guard, athletic events, choir events, and other activities may also be on the chopping block.