Timeline: One month of distance learning, grab-and-go meals, and other adjustments for OC schools

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.

student works on laptop
A student connects with her teacher and classmates during virtual lesson.

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.

March 12

  • 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.

March 13

  • 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.

March 14

  • 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.

March 16

  • School closures begin for the county’s nearly 500,000 public school students.
  • 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.

March 17

March 18

March 19

  • 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.

March 20

March 24

  • County health officials confirm the first Orange County death attributed to COVID-19.

March 27

March 31

  • Echoing comments from the governor, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond says that campuses will likely not reopen to students before summer break.

April 1

  • County officials encourage local residents to create family preparedness plans in case they’re impacted by COVID-19.

April 7

  • 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.

April 8

  • Orange County hits a sobering COVID-19 milestone, surpassing 1,000 cases.

April 9

  • 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.