NEEDLES — According to Needles Unified School District staff, all schools are closed until May 4. 

“San Bernardino County Supt. Ted Alejandre and the San Bernardino County Public Health Department had an online conference call with all county superintendents,” said Mary McNeil, NUSD superintendent. “During this call, the decision to close all SBC schools to at least May 4 was made in response to the public health concerns due to the rising number of individuals with COVID-19. This is an approximate date that will depend on the public health risks at the time that schools would consider reopening. The governor has stated that school may be closed until summer break so we are preparing for this possibility as well.”

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Monday ordered his state’s schools to be closed for the remainder of the current school year. California Gov. Gavin Newsom has yet to make a similar declaration. Nevada schools are closed through at least April 13.

McNeil said that study packets were being handed out with lunches in a drive-through process this week.

“After that, we are working on setting up quality distance learning for all students throughout the district,” said McNeil. “We have devices to support students with virtual learning from home and will develop a check-out system for instructional materials and technology at the end of next week.” 

The NUSD said the packets will be distributed each week until the district is able to implement distance learning programs.

“Our instructional packets are mandatory to complete,” said McNeil. “We will work out a system of exchange before we move into distance learning. I am also working diligently with California state superintendents to consider a pass/fail system for this semester as long as it does not impact our seniors who will be attending college and career programs upon graduation. 

“I am awaiting more information from the UC (University of California) and CSU (California State University) systems for California and we will connect with out-of-state colleges/universities that have accepted our students.”

McNeil stated that as of now the district is not allowed to hold any events such as graduation due to the shelter-in-place orders from the state, county and city.

“As we near May, we will have more information on the regulations in regards to their public health issue,” said McNeil. “I am personally devastated for our seniors that will have an unprecedented final semester in high school. As soon as it is safe, we will work together to provide appropriate actives to celebrate these milestones events and to culminate their K-12 education with high school graduation.”

McNeil said that the past few weeks have been unprecedented and have brought challenging times as an educator.

“The changes that are being made within our Needles Unified School District will impact our educational systems for decades to come. We have been acquiring technology for our students for years, but this will push us to discover new ways of engaging our students in their learning process,” said McNeil. “My staff and I are ready to accept this challenge to ensure that our students receive the education necessary for success in the 21st century. The Needles Unified School District is here to support our greater school community during this difficult time. We wish that our entire community stays safe and well in the weeks to come.”

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