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Santa Rosa, Petaluma, group of other Sonoma County public schools extend campus closures through May 1

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Sonoma County school districts extend campus closures through May 1 (as of Wednesday)

Santa Rosa City Schools

Petaluma City Schools

Windsor Unified School District

Sonoma Valley Unified School District

Healdsburg Unified School District

Cloverdale Unified School District

Rincon Valley Unified School District

Roseland School District

Bellevue Union School District

Mark West Union School District

Tens of thousands of Sonoma County schoolchildren will be kept out of classrooms through May 1, following a recommendation Wednesday from county education leaders to extend at-home instruction by four weeks unless the local coronavirus outlook improves.

In response to the nonbinding recommendation from the Sonoma County Office of Education, school districts in Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Cotati, Windsor, Sonoma and the west county said they would adopt the advisory, keeping most of county's public school students outside their classrooms through May 1. The county's 40 school districts had a 2018-2019 enrollment of 69,734 students.

Santa Rosa Superintendent Diann Kitamura, who oversees the largest district in the county with 16,000 students, said in a statement the 24 city schools would continue to follow the advice of the county’s top public health official, Dr. Sundari Mase.

Santa Rosa students will “continue learning from home through May 1 unless circumstances change regarding COVID-19,” Kitamura said, referring to the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus.

Decisions by other school districts to extend remote instruction will be made individually by each district, but county Office of Education spokeswoman Jamie Hansen said she expects the suggestion to be widely adopted as public schools adapt to do their part to help stifle community spread of the coronavirus.

“Based on what we’ve been hearing from districts, it sounds like most, if not all, will be following the recommendation,” she said.

As of Wednesday evening, there were 39 confirmed active cases of the virus in Sonoma County, though public health officials have said they believe the virus is circulating more widely locally.

Numerous districts were still weighing the decision or were not yet prepared to make a formal announcement Wednesday to extend at-home instruction.

SCOE was expecting to hear from additional districts by Thursday, Hansen said.

Previously, most area school districts were scheduled to resume classes April 7 when Sonoma County’s current stay home order was set to expire. That was before Gov. Gavin Newsom then ordered the entire state to largely remain indoors until further notice.

The SCOE recommendation to all county schools was made after superintendents from Sonoma, Napa, Marin and Solano counties conferred with Mase.

“The goal is to get students back into the classroom as soon as it is considered safe to do so,” SCOE Superintendent Steve Herrington said. “While difficult for working parents, school closures are necessary at this time to protect the health of students, staff and family members with compromised immune systems.”

Will Lyon, president of the Santa Rosa Teachers Association, which represents more than 900 city teachers, said his organization supported the extension of at-home instruction.

“I am really proud of our teachers and staff for stepping up so hard to provide our students access to meaningful distance learning opportunities,” Lyon said in an email. “We are committed to supporting our students and our school is these challenging times.”

You can reach Staff Writer Yousef Baig at 707-521-5390 or yousef.baig@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @YousefBaig

Sonoma County school districts extend campus closures through May 1 (as of Wednesday)

Santa Rosa City Schools

Petaluma City Schools

Windsor Unified School District

Sonoma Valley Unified School District

Healdsburg Unified School District

Cloverdale Unified School District

Rincon Valley Unified School District

Roseland School District

Bellevue Union School District

Mark West Union School District

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