March 8, 2020

Dear MPCSD Parents, Guardians, and Staff,

Thank you, again, for your continued attention to our COVID-19 communication and your flexibility and cooperation. I hope you have had a restful weekend. 

As we enter into another week of managing the potential spread of the COVID-19 virus, I want to provide you an update on our recent actions and decisions. After our county Superintendent’s meeting on March 6 with the County Health Department and Office of Education, it is clear that the next four weeks will be critical in understanding how COVID-19 is likely to spread and what steps will be necessary to control that spread. 

On Thursday, Dr. Scott Morrow of the San Mateo County Health Department published new guidelines   providing clear direction to cancel all non-essential large gatherings. While there are many variations of “non-essential gatherings” in the context of a school district, our COVID-19 Response Team is attempting to make good decisions in line with this directive without unnecessarily stealing away important experiences for children. 

We have spent a great deal of time considering upcoming field trips, events, and assemblies . With each passing week, experts learn exponentially more about the virus, its spread, and the steps necessary to keep people safe. From now until the end of our scheduled Spring Break (April 3), I have made the decision, with the support of our COVID-19 Response Team, to cancel or postpone all field trips, events, and large indoor assemblies. We will reassess the situation and recommendations at the end of March to determine if this cancellation needs to continue past Spring Break. This four-week pause will allow us to focus on limiting potential exposure and managing risks, while we see the direction this outbreak takes. 

The only pre-Spring Break field trip exceptions of this decision will be Laurel’s Fourth Grade trip to Coloma and Hillview’s Washington D.C trip. Student performances (such as musicals and concerts) prior to Spring Break will be modified to control potential risk of large audiences and may include using video technology, but students will be allowed to perform what they have worked so hard to create. Principals will communicate to their respective communities about these exceptions and the measures we will take to limit the risks of contagion. 

For the time being, after school programs (ASP) will be allowed to continue as scheduled. All ASP partners have been notified of the District’s expectations for health and safety during the COVID-19 outbreak. They are now required to sign an agreement to hold their staff to the same strict standards to which MPCSD is holding its employees. District leadership has met with Newton After School leadership to ensure direct and regular communication. As long as ASPs continue, it is a parent’s ultimate decision as to whether or not their child participates. Some ASPs may choose to shut down prior to the District requiring them to do so; the impacts of an ASP's cancellation are between the parent and the ASP. 

In preparation for school tomorrow, all five of our school sites were thoroughly cleaned and disinfected this weekend. The District contracted with an outside cleaning service to assist our hard working custodial staff during this demanding time. Additionally, our EdServices staff, with the support of our Distance Learning Planning Team, has developed plans for daily virtual instruction should any or all of MPCSD’s schools need to close. 

While some of you may be reading articles such as this one in the NY Times about “the right time” to close schools in a pandemic situation, the status of the COVID-19 outbreak in our community does not rise to the level of school closure at this time. The California Department of Education and California Department of Public Health just released this communication to Superintendents with clear guidance on when schools should consider closing down. MPCSD has followed each directive suggested based on the current status of spread in our area. All this said, it is your choice as a parent as to whether to keep your child home from school while it is in session. 

If you have general questions about COVID-19 or your family’s health, San Mateo County has developed a COVID-19 Public Call Center that can be reached by dialing 211. This line is open 24/7 and available in multiple languages. You can also text "coronavirus" to 211211 for information and updates.

Please continue to use your site principals as your main point of contact. All four and the ELC Director are deeply involved in the planning and communication of the District’s response and are well prepared to lead us through these uncertain times. We could not have more capable leadership at our schools. Please also refer to the MPCSD COVID-19 FAQ for the most up to date information. 

Hoping your family is and stays well,
Erik Burmeister, Superintendent |
Governing Board
Stacey Jones , President
Sherwin Chen, Vice President
David Ackerman
Mark Box
Scott Saywell