By Mike Harris
Taking quick and decisive action, Rim of the World school trustees have voted unanimously to close all school campuses and gave Superintendent Michelle Murphy the authority to close schools next week, if needed.
The emergency resolution was approved at a special meeting of Rim’s school board on Friday, March 13 at the district office in Blue Jay by all five trustees. Two of the trustees attended the board meeting electronically, as did the superintendent who was at meetings in the High Desert focusing on the Coronavirus threat.
The school closures took effect on Monday, March 16. Rim administrators on Monday were waiting for a possible decision from California Gov. Gavin Newsom about whether California schools should be kept closed for as much as 30 days.
In a letter sent out to parents via email, Rim officials said safety of students was a top priority.
“We have decided to act with caution and remain ahead of a potential outbreak that could result in further spread of the Coronavirus. In collaboration with the Mountain/High Desert Superintendents, the Rim of the World Unified School District and other Mountain/High Desert School Districts will suspend in-class instruction and all school activities, effective Monday, March 16, 2020, through Friday, March 20, 2020. Schools are scheduled to reopen on Monday, March 23, 2020. A decision about any possible future school closure will be announced based on circumstances as they develop. Extensions of this closure are possible.”
During the meeting, it was noted that San Bernardino City Unified School District closed Friday.
Trustee Leslie Bramson, via telephone, asked during the school board meeting whether students would be able to receive meals while campuses were closed. She said some students need the nutrition they receive while attending school.
The question was not able to be answered during the meeting.
However, on Monday, Rim emailed to parents a letter saying that the district would be making meals available to students on Wednesdays while schools were closed. The message read:
“Rim of the World Unified School District will be distributing food this Wednesday (March 18) at each elementary school (Lake Arrowhead Elementary, Charles Hoffman Elementary and Valley of Enchantment Elementary.) Please go to the nearest school regardless of the school where your child attends. Families can pick up meals for every school-aged child in their home. Distribution will be from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The district will continue the distribution on Wednesdays while school closure is occurring due to the COVID-19 outbreak. We are asking that families bring bags or a box to carry the meals. This service will not be available during spring break as of right now.”
Todd Beale, Associate Superintendent Personnel/Pupil Services, told The Alpine Mountaineer on Monday that a meal pick-up program would be centered at the district’s three elementary schools, even if students were attending MPH Intermediate School or Rim’s two high schools.
“For example, high school students living in the Running Springs area could simply go to Charles Hoffman and not have to drive to Rim High,” he said.
During Monday’s meeting, Rim administrators said teachers and classified employees would still be receiving pay even though schools were closed. Beale said the current contracts with the Rim Teachers Association (RTA) and the California School Employees Association (CSEA) covered the question of paid time.