Closing schools due to coronavirus concerns is a decision that local school districts and schools make on their own in consultation with their county public health departments, according to EdSource. Unlike several other states, as of March 16, California had not issued a statewide order for all schools to close.

While most schools are closing in a precautionary measure to help slow the spread of COVID-19, McCloud Elementary School has decided to remain open. They are the only holdout in South Siskiyou County; in North County, Yreka Union School District, Montague and Bogus schools are still in session as of Tuesday.

“The county Health Department and the school superintendent did not say we have to close,” said McCloud Elementary School secretary Rosa Mero on Monday, as students remained on campus, continuing their education as normal. “It is our choice. It could be number-wise, since other schools are bigger.”

McCloud Elementary School has 50 students in grades kindergarten through eighth and the school provides key services such as meals and after school programs that are “a big concern” for the McCloud community, Mero added.

The school is taking many precautions, including having the students wash their hands immediately upon entering the school and wiping down all surfaces.

“The older staff members had the option to stay home, but so far, everyone said that they will be here,” Mero added, referring to Governor Gavin Newsom’s recommendation that those over 65 should self isolate.

McCloud Elementary School Principal/Superintendent Shelley Cain said in a Facebook post that she is receiving constant information from the Center for Disease Control and other county, state, and federal health agencies. The CDC recommends for schools not to close unless there has been substantial exposure or risk to the school community, she said.

“CDC states that the negatives to closing school far outweighs the benefits. Social mixing of students will still occur outside of school with less ability to monitor. Many families do no have the capacity for students to participate online. Also, students who are academically behind may become farther behind the longer school is closed,” Cain said on the school’s Facebook page.

Closing schools due to coronavirus concerns is a decision that local school districts and schools make on their own in consultation with their county public health departments, according to EdSource. Unlike several other states, as of March 16, California had not issued a statewide order for all schools to close.

Governor Gavin Newsom said on March 12 that schools do not fall under his executive order to cancel non-essential gatherings of more than 250 people until at least the end of March. He said schools are considered “essential” and local officials should consult guidance sent out March 7 before deciding whether to close.