TEMPLETON — At an emergency meeting Friday afternoon, the Templeton Unified School District board of trustees voted to close all Templeton schools as a precaution against the novel coronavirus COVID-19.
“The pace of the evolution of this phenomenon is incredible,” Interim TUSD Superintendent Aaron Asplund said, adding that there wasn’t much time for discussion. “This is one of those moments when our decisions come with a price — this is hugely impactful.”
The board voted unanimously to close schools effective Monday, March 16 through April 3 and also to move spring break up to April 6, effectively closing the schools for a total of four weeks.
A Templeton High School student named Tyler spoke at the meeting, asking the board to let schools remain open as not to disrupt students’ lives, noting the upcoming SAT tests.
TUSD teacher Jason Diodati called for a proactive decision from the board.
“I think we need to be proactive and I think we need to lessen the impact on our schools and county,” he said. “I think this is a sacrifice that we all have to make. I think we need to be proactive and not reactive.”
Board member Ted Dubost said that it was the school’s “duty to follow suite and shut down.”
Board member Nelson Yagamata agreed that schools should be closed but wasn’t sure how long they should remain closed.
“We’re in the beginning of this, that’s just the reality of it,” he said. “I can’t feel in good conscience to continue with schools open until we know more.”
Salaried employees will still be paid during the closure and classified employees should be able to keep working, Asplund said.
Multiple school employees spoke at the meeting to say that they are prepared and in full support of school administration.
School Food Service Departments will continue to provide meals to children under the age of 18 through a drive-thru system.
The district is still trying to work out how students might be able to continue their schoolwork online but it was noted that many students do not have chromebooks or even internet access. Board member Jan Nimick said that the decision to close schools wasn’t easy and that the greatest impact is going to be to disadvantaged families. The board will meet again March 23 to see if they can work out the details for online learning.
“Closing the schools is asking the students to ‘take one for the team,'” Nimick said.