BURBANK (CBSLA) — Across the Southland, schools and universities are preparing for the possibility of an increased local coronavirus outbreak as public health officials recommend social distancing to help staunch the spread.
The University of Southern California will be holding all classes online later this week to test its ability to do so, the University of California Los Angeles has scheduled an informational meeting after three students tested negative for the illness and at Cal State University Long Beach, 10 students and 3 advisers have self-quarantined after attending a conference in Washington, D.C. where three people tested positive for coronavirus.
At the University of California San Diego, all spring quarter classes will be delivered to students remotely — with teachers being told to utilize online teaching and learning tools for courses conventionally held in a classroom environment.
Furthermore, the school strongly recommended that gatherings of 100 people or more and campus visits of groups of 15 or more be canceled. The school also announced that all university-sponsored athletic events would be conducted without fans in attendance.
In Riverside, Murrieta Valley High School temporarily closed its doors after an employee who traveled to a country with a known outbreak fell ill. The school, which has undergone a thorough cleaning, will reopen Wednesday after officials said the test came back negative.
And at Providence High School, a private Catholic school in Burbank, students were told Monday to remain at home and take their classes using an online learning program. The school said it was testing the program in the event the school had to close due to a local outbreak of the disease.
“It’s kind of nice, because I just get to work today at my own pace,” Dominic Mongelli, a sophomore, said.
Providence has yet to see a case of the coronavirus, but administrators made the decision to hold two at-home online learning days this week.
“Although we’re hoping for the best in how coronavirus and COVID-19 spreads, we’re planning for the worst,” Scott McLarty, Providence head of school, said.
On Thursday, the school will test a Skype tool to connect students and teachers, making it possible for staff to teach full lessons.
“I’m really interested in how they’re going to do it, especially because Thursday I have my choir class,” Mongelli said.
And for students who have less than ideal internet connections, the school said it has a plan to ensure they can log in as well.
“We have a plane in place to help those families that need a WiFi booster or something like that or even a device if it comes down to that,” McLarty said.
And while school at Providence resumes Tuesday, Mongelli said he was worried that his choir trip would get canceled.
“We have a huge competition coming up in Nashville, so travel and still like that was in question,” he said.
In addition to preparing for a potential outbreak, Providence was also working to quell fears, bringing in doctors last week to talk to staff and students about the facts of the virus and the importance of washing their hands.
As of Monday evening, there have been 116 confirmed cases of coronavirus in California with two deaths attributed to the disease. Los Angeles County has 16 confirmed cases, and Riverside County has four confirmed cases.