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Napa school district cancels classes into mid-April amid coronavirus threat

Napa school district cancels classes into mid-April amid coronavirus threat

From the Complete coronavirus coverage from the Napa Valley Register, St. Helena Star, and The Weekly Calistogan series
NVUSD Admin Building

The Napa Valley Unified School District administration building.

All classes will be canceled in the Napa Valley Unified School District for the next three weeks, after the district board approved the wide-ranging shutdown Friday afternoon amid a widening outbreak of the coronavirus in the U.S.

The decision, made at 4:55 p.m. at the end of a special emergency meeting, begins Monday and effectively shuts down public schools and district offices in Napa, American Canyon and Yountville for nearly a month. The closure will segue into NVUSD's previously scheduled spring break April 6-10.

District leaders are taking the step to slow the spread of the coronavirus and allow time to decontaminate school facilities, Superintendent Rosanna Mucetti said before the unanimous 6-0 vote (with Robin Jankiewicz absent).

Families and employees will be allowed to visit their home campuses between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday to retrieve personal belongings, after which school grounds will be off limits, said Mucetti. District workers will use the unscheduled hiatus to decontaminate campus before the expected return of students April 13.

NVUSD teachers are preparing a combination of educational packets and online coursework to allow schooling to continue while campuses are closed, according to Mary Ann Valles, assistant superintendent for instructional services. The paper-based option is intended to serve families without adequate internet access at home.

With school cafeterias to be shut down, the Napa school district will offer a grab-and-go meal service at three school sites, Mucetti said. Both the meal and remote education plans are expected to roll out next week, with the district to release details later.

Most staff members, other than those providing essential services, are asked to stay home and not enter campuses during the shutdown, but will receive their regular pay without the need to draw on their sick leave.

“Because of the evolving nature of the coronavirus pandemic, we hope to be able to resume instruction after spring break, but will continually assess the conditions to determine the best time for reopening schools,” Mucetti wrote in a letter posted to the NVUSD website after the vote.

The district called the emergency meeting late Friday afternoon, less than 24 hours after Napa County's public health officer Dr. Karen Relucio announced a local health emergency. Her directive recommended avoiding assemblies of more than 250 people, and keeping people at least 6 feet apart at smaller gatherings.

In the wake of the county alert, NVUSD canceled sporting events, stage performances and other extracurricular activites. On Wednesday, the district also had blocked all student trips and employee travel into April.

Editor’s Note: Because of the health implications of the COVID-19 virus, this article is being made available free to all online readers. If you’d like to join us in supporting the mission of local journalism, please visit napavalleyregister.com/members/join/.

You can reach Howard Yune at 707-256-2214 or hyune@napanews.com

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Public Safety Reporter

Howard Yune covers public safety for the Napa Valley Register. He has been a reporter and photographer for the Register since 2011, and previously wrote for the Marysville Appeal-Democrat, Anaheim Bulletin and Coos Bay (Oregon) World.

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