As of this Monday, March 16th, Menlo Park City School District (MPCSD) will have implemented their “Social Distancing Plan,” the newest way in which area schools are attempting to curb the spread of COVID-19.
In an effort to limit human contact, the plan gives students the option to take classes from home, over the internet. While the San Mateo Health Department has yet to call for region-wide school closures, the district “recommends” that families with the means to keep children home should do so.
While such a plan disproportionately affects lower-income families, MPCSD has made a concerted effort to lessen the difficulty of learning at home. According to MPCSD Public Information Officer Parke Treadway, “Even when we aren’t in a distance learning model, we keep track of which students don’t have internet access and/or devices to use… we give them resources for affordable internet at home if needed. For the distance learning plan, we are offering loaner devices to any family that doesn’t have one at home.”
Treadway continued, “we assume that families that don’t have access to child care, and with parents can’t leave their jobs, will be the primary users of our on-campus classrooms.” As such, vital resources to underserved communities–the hot lunch program, and bussing to-and-from school–will continue.
Ravenswood School District is taking similar preventative measures, minus the technology. In a statement released Thursday, March 11th, the board stated that “If it is medically advisable for a student to stay home because that student or a family member with whom they live is at risk of serious illness from COVID-19, we will excuse that student’s absences.”
However, unlike MPCSD, this option is not meant as a substitute for normal instruction: instead, time spent out of school is to be treated like sick days. According to the release, “Note that this is not independent study… Teachers may share assignments and updates that are easy to share, but they will not be generating special communications.”