On March 18, Michelle Hutchins, Mendocino County Superintendent of Schools, will deliver an update about Mendocino County public schools via Town Hall meeting organized by State Senator Mike McGuire’s office.
To flatten the curve and safeguard as many people as possible, the Mendocino County Office of Education, in collaboration with local school districts, has been following the advice of Public Health Officer Dr. Mimi Doohan to reduce face-to-face contact throughout local communities, which includes switching to remote instruction in our public schools. Remote instruction means that students do not physically attend school but instead, receive and complete lessons at home. Even with the shelter-in-place order scheduled to begin March 18 at 10 pm, students can continue to access school libraries, meals, and assignments.
Hutchins said, “As we watched COVID-19 spread across China, Europe, and the rest of the world, we knew it would eventually arrive at home. Although we began preparing weeks ago, it’s been an enormous challenge to shift to a whole new service delivery model.”
She continued, “Our school districts are quickly implementing a whole new approach to teaching by creating instructional materials online and in paper format to keep students engaged in learning. This is a big undertaking with very little lead time, so we all need to be patient as they work out the kinks.”
Mendocino County school districts continue to provide meals to all children under 18 who request them, delivering meals at schools and dropping them off to students at many bus stops. MCOE is also utilizing County vehicles to deliver resources to homeless and foster youth.
Many districts are coming up with creative solutions to deliver educational materials while maintaining appropriate social distancing. Some are planning for Monday morning drive-through packet drop off and pick up, so parents do not need to get out of their cars.
MCOE has canceled all classes except the adult night classes for medical assistants and phlebotomists. “We’re dividing the classes into cohorts smaller than 10 and respecting social distancing recommendations while we train the medical professionals our community is likely to need in the coming months,” Hutchins said.
Otherwise, all MCOE employees who can work from home are doing so. Only staff who perform essential functions such as payroll are coming into the office.
“We’ll never know if closing schools slowed the spread of COVID-19, but we must do all we can to make it possible for our healthcare system in this rural community to keep up with demand.
MCOE will remain in contact with our public health officer and collaborate with local school districts to keep children and our whole community safe. It’s time for all of us to think about the greater good, to adhere to public health recommendations, inconvenient as they may be, in hopes of safeguarding the most vulnerable among us,” Hutchins said.