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CVUSD closing district offices until Oct. 26 for cleaning following coronavirus outbreak

The Coachella Valley Unified School District offices in Thermal were shut Thursday down for extensive cleaning and sanitization after staff members became infected with coronavirus.

"Kind of scary and it makes me think that it's not safe yet for the kids to return to school," said Eva Figueroa, a Coachella Valley High School parent.

According to CVUSD Superintendent Dr. Maria Gandera, the district office complex will be shut down until Monday, October 26.

The district first became aware of coronavirus cases Oct. 4, when a staff member in the special education department tested positive.

Coachella Valley Teacher's Association president Carissa Carrera said she's "lost count" of how many cases there are – possibly up to 10 so far, she said.

The outbreak is raising questions about how safe it is to send students back into the classroom.

"I've always really loved school and I would love to come back, but of course I'd want to know I'm safe," said Gema Gonzalez, in 9th grade at Coachella Valley High School.

The district said while they hope the impact to distance learning will be minimal, wifi buses that park in neighborhoods with poor connectivity to provide internet access will be disabled through the closure.

Instead, students can connect to long distance wifi networks being broadcast from school sites.

Gandera noted that the district's virtual learning plan will continue as scheduled and meal distribution will resume next week.

"During the closure period, we will follow our off-site business continuity plan to provide support services to the greatest extent possible," Gandera wrote.

Thursday, CVUSD gave out 500 donated Chromebooks to district families.

Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia was just one of several local elected officials hoping to close the so-called "digital divide."

"A lot of these families are getting for the first time a brand new piece of technology," Garcia said. "Some of them have been working off of an old iPad or computer."

"Using some of the outdated devices was really hard because you're trying to submit stuff and it wasn't loading or the device would crash completely," Gonzalez said. "Hopefully I won't have my assignments deleting every few days."

Coachella Valley Unified has also had an employee die due to causes believed to have been related to coronavirus. CVUSD and the employee's family identified him as Adrian Munoz.

County health officials say his case was not related to the recent outbreak.

Adrian Munoz

Since March, CVUSD has reported 19 confirmed cases of coronavirus among staff. During that same time period, the Desert Sands Unified School District has had 50 confirmed positive cases.

Palm Springs Unified School District has reported 60 positive cases since they began tracking in May. A spokesperson for PSUSD added that none of those cases have been positively linked to a work exposure and have been from various departments and school sites across the district.

Article Topic Follows: Coronavirus

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Jake Ingrassia

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