By Ed Martin, Editor
Lemoore High School District officials announced late Friday afternoon that it would close its doors to student from March 16 through April 14 during the coronavirus emergency.
Lemoore High School District officials announced late Friday afternoon that it would close its doors to student from March 16 through April 14 during the coronavirus emergency.

The Lemoore Union High School District announced today (March 13) about 5 p.m. that it would be closing its schools and sending its students home beginning March 16 and continuing through April 14. It was only after monitoring for several weeks the "direction and guidance" of various agencies keeping watch on the coronavirus that school officials made the weighty decision to keep kids home.

Also, in an update, the Lemoore Elementary School District announced that it would begin serving free lunch meals at its district schools (with the exception of University Charter School) beginning Wednesday (March 18) from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.

In a letter to staff, Lemoore Union High School District Superintendent Debbie Muro issued the directive to send students home to reduce the rate of transmission of the virus.

The Kings County Department of Health issued an update earlier that indicated that there were currently no confirmed cases of coronavirus reported in the county. However, at least one case continues to be monitored by local health officials.

In her letter, Muro said the district has been keeping a close eye on events surrounding the virus. "We have been closely monitoring the direction and guidance from the World Health Organization, the Center for Disease Control, the California Department of Public Health, the Kings County Department of Public Health, and the governor of California's executive orders," stated Muro. "In addition, the president of the United States declared a national emergency due to the coronavirus today."

Just a few hours earlier, the Hanford Joint Union High School informed staff, parents, and students through its website that it was closing its schools effective Monday, March 16 through Monday, April 13. The Hanford Elementary Schools will also be closed starting Monday, March 16 through Monday, April 13 with classes tentatively resuming Tuesday, April 14.

Also joining the list of districts sending students home is the Lemoore Union Elementary School District. "We are hopeful that this closure remains short term and does not continue to be extended," said Superintendent Cheryl Hunt. "We are also exploring ways in which students can continue their learning during this time when and if closures are extended."

The Lemoore Elementary School District also plans to keep students away from school from March 16 through April 13. Superintendent Hunt, in an update, told The Leader that the district's schools are expected to resume on Tuesday, April 14. On another important note, Hunt informed The Leader that the district also posted new information on the school's website that "free lunch meals will be available at all of their sites (with the exception of University Charter School) beginning this Wednesday (March 18) from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Lemoore's Mary Immaculate Queen School, a private school, also closed its doors according to a telephone message. It plans to close Monday (March 16) and reopen March 30 due to the coronavirus.

Muro went on to say that the school district has a responsibility to not only educate but also to protect students. "We can assure you that we made this decision based on the health and safety of our staff and students," she stated.

Teachers were asked to vacate the campus also. "To be clear, during this planning week, no staff, including coaches, are to be on campus unless your direct supervisor specifically contacts you and requests your assistance," said Muro.

Only management will be working on planning the district's next steps. "We will have much more information following a planning week next week, so please monitor your work email closely for further information," stated Muro.

The virus has had a dramatic effect on Lemoore. This past week, officials at West Hills College, who had hoped to play host to the California Community College Basketball Championships were at one-point last week forced to ban spectators, and just one day later was forced to cancel the prestigious event.

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.

Early Friday morning, Kings County Superintendent Todd Barlow told The Leader that the local school districts would do what was best for the roughly 28,000 students in Kings County. "We certainly want what's best for our students. We're going to make the right decisions for our students."

The Lemoore and Hanford school districts are not alone in California. Its two largest districts – Los Angeles and San Diego – which together educate some 750,000 students, announced their closures today.

In other closures, upwards of 3.6 million students were victims of school closures. Fresno Unified also closed its schools starting March 16 through  April 13.

For more information or to keep updated on what our schools and local health agencies are doing to keep the public informed, visit the following websites:

 Kings County Office of Education website updates

Lemoore Union Elementary School District Website

Lemoore Union High School District Website

Kings County Health Department


Virus fears prompt Lemoore High, other districts to send students home. Lemoore Elementary District will continue free student lunches beginning Wednesday