Kings County superintendents announce schools to remain closed to students until at least May 4

By The Leader Staff
Kings County superintendents announce schools to remain closed to students until at least May 4

Kings County Superintendent of Schools Todd Barlow and the county’s 14 superintendents, including Lemoore High School’s Debbie Muro and Lemoore Elementary District’s Cheryl Hunt, along with the districts’ board members, have agreed to keep the county’s schools closed to students until at least May 4, 2020.

Earlier this month, local schools closed their doors and announced they might open on April 14.

According to Barlow, the state’s county superintendents, in a conference call with California State Superintendent Tony Thurmond, addressed the opening of the state’s schools, and Thurmond said that a specific date is less important than a set of circumstances and that safety is the number one factor in determining the opening of the state’s schools.

Barlow also credited local public health officials for their guidance as school officials struggled with the idea of closing schools.

“We want to thank the leaders of Kings County Department of Public Health for their dedication to our citizens and their guidance in making this decision,” stated Barlow in a release to The Leader.

“We are in constant contact with our districts, school leaders from other counties, and our state leaders. All are faced with similar challenges. Districts all over the state are meeting the challenge to continue our primary mission of supporting our students while considering the shelter-in-place order,” said Barlow.

Kings County’s superintendents, with the support of their boards of trustees and in consultation with the local public health department, decided to close their schools due to the COVID-19 outbreak temporarily.

Since then, county officials and the schools have remained in constant contact with one another, monitoring local, state, and national announcements that affect the area’s schools.

During the closures, schools have successfully focused on providing students with meals, educational enrichment opportunities, and planning for distance learning.

In Lemoore, the local schools continue to provide daily breakfast and lunches.

“As leaders, we are charged with doing everything we can to respond to the declared state and national emergency. We heed the governor’s recent “shelter in place” order and the sustained guidance to practice social distancing,” stated a letter signed by all 14 Kings County superintendents.

 Dr. Milton Teske, with the Kings County Department of Public Health, is advising that the community needs to continue to focus on ​containment, and an essential part of that effort is keeping school facilities closed.                  

According to Barlow and the county’s educational leaders, they will need to identify criteria that would need to be met before school resumes.

These include the lifting of the statewide “shelter in place” order and the removal of the guidelines for social distancing and restrictions on social gathering.

“Given these current circumstances, we have come to a collective decision that the safety of our families and our community outweigh all other considerations. We recognize the need to extend the closure of our physical sites until May 1, 2020.”

Until the schools are reopened, a primary focus will be to continue providing meals to students and maintaining educational services through distance learning. School officials will continue to evaluate the ever-changing circumstances, remaining hopeful that classroom-based instruction will resume on May 4, 2020.   

Parents should contact their local district offices or school sites for specific information related to their schools.                 

Comments powered by Disqus