Malibu students will be dismissed from class Friday, March 13, and Monday, March 16, "in an abundance of caution," the school district announced Thursday, after a parent with children attending school in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District was found to have been exposed to coronavirus. It was not clear whether the parent's children attended Malibu or Santa Monica schools.
Teachers and staff members are expected to still be on campus Friday and Monday, though "all students will not be on campus, for any purpose," according to a Thursday afternoon letter sent by Superintendent Ben Drati.
"We are taking this action to thoroughly clean our schools and evaluate the state of illness in our communities in order to make an informed decision for Tuesday into next week," Drati wrote. "We are aware of a community member with children in our schools who was exposed to coronavirus. We have noticed a higher than normal absentee rate on our campuses today and will take this time to determine if students are ill, with what type of illness or if parents are keeping students home during the coronavirus pandemic."
There was no immediate indication as to whether an attempt at virtual education will be made or to what extent that could be possible. However, when it comes to preparedness, School Board Member Craig Foster said Malibu was "quite far down the road" toward the ability to enact remote learning in grades K-12.
"In Malibu, we are actually quite far down the road on our ability to do virtual learning," Foster told The Malibu Times Thursday. "We went through this in the aftermath of the Woolsey Fire as well as the mudslide concern after that."
Foster said, compared to those disasters, COVID-19 could have less of an effect on local kids' ability to access education.
"We’ve been doing online learning," Foster continued. "What potentially is different here, since everybody was so displaced last time—this time I would expect it would be more routine."