It’s been one month since Orange County school district leaders announced the closure of all campuses to students as a precaution to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since then, teachers, students and parents have worked together to reshape the educational environment, shifting from a classroom model to one that includes video conferencing, and lessons through YouTube and PBS channels. It’s been a challenge for everyone, with many obstacles to overcome. Some students needed Chromebooks or other devices, along with internet access to connect to their teachers and classmates, while schools scrambled to provide free meals for children who still relied on them as part of their daily nutrition.
For most, the last month has felt like a lifetime. Here’s a short timeline of notable events to acknowledge all the hard work and dedication of everyone in our school communities.
- California public health officials announce that large gatherings should be postponed or canceled across the state until at least the end of March. At this point, schools were not included in the announcement. Health officials would later go on to extend this order indefinitely.
- Orange County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Al Mijares issues a statement supporting the decision of schools and districts in the county to suspend all activity for a minimum of 14 days. Across the county, school district leaders announce that campuses will close to students beginning the following Monday.
- Governor Gavin Newsom issues an executive order ensuring California public school still get funding following closures.
- The number of confirmed or presumed-positive coronavirus cases rises to 13 in Orange County, which also reports its first documented case of community transmission — meaning it was contracted locally.
- School closures begin for the county’s nearly 500,000 public school students.
- Orange County school districts begin serving grab-and-go meals to students during campus closures. The OCDE Newsroom posts dates, times and locations online.
- Citing the need for “extraordinary measures” to halt the spread of COVID-19, Mijares announces that OCDE’s offices will temporarily close to the public and most employees will have the option of staying home.
- Orange County Health Officer Dr. Nichole Quick issues a new ban on public and private gatherings, calling for a suspension of all social, professional and community activities that are considered nonessential.
- The California Department of Education introduces new COVID-19 guidance for K-12 schools on Tuesday, covering distance learning and student meals. Similarly, the state’s Health and Human Services Agency shares considerations for child care and supervision.
- Gov. Newsom issues an executive order on to waive this year’s statewide assessments for K-12 students.
- During a virtual OC Forum, Mijares says schools and districts are pivoting to distance learning models in real time to maintain academic continuity for students. “We have the capacity to provide online learning,” Mijares says. “It’s becoming more robust as we speak.”
- Gov. Newsom triggers the nation’s tightest restrictions to halt the spread of COVID-19 by ordering nearly all Californians to shelter in place at home. The executive order impacts nearly 40 million state residents.
- Mijares on announces his support for extending student dismissals until the governor ends his order for Californians to stay home and public health officials modify social distancing guidelines.
- In response to the governor’s stay-at-home order and the latest guidance from local health officials, a number of Orange County districts extend their student dismissals through April or May.
- County health officials confirm the first Orange County death attributed to COVID-19.
- Orange County health officials begin posting COVID-19 cases by city on the OC Health Care Agency’s website. The counts are updated every afternoon.
- Echoing comments from the governor, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond says that campuses will likely not reopen to students before summer break.
- Citing forecasts from the governor and California’s schools chief, Mijares recommends that local school districts cancel in-person classes and activities through the end of the school year and move toward adopting robust distance learning models.
- California education officials issue new guidance on graduation requirements and grading for high school seniors.
- County officials encourage local residents to create family preparedness plans in case they’re impacted by COVID-19.
- Gov. Newsom seeks to convey a sense of optimism, saying the social distancing efforts of Californians were slowing the spread of the coronavirus and flattening the curve.
- Orange County hits a sobering COVID-19 milestone, surpassing 1,000 cases.
- Orange County’s top health official strongly encourages all employees of essential businesses to wear face coverings at work, and all residents engaged in essential activities outside the home are urged to do the same.