Many of you have asked us to close schools. (OK, like 2 of you asked me personally. Mostly it's chatter on social media, though my guess is that Board Chair got asked more.) Here is my answer:
I think the impact of closing schools is too great still, as of today, March 12. The hardest-hit students and families will be those whose adults can't take time off to stay home with them. If they end up with a caregiver who takes on more children, their risk is increased, or the family income may be impacted. Plus, the district doesn't have the infrastructure to teach online. Many students rely on devices at school and/or the public library; if they have to go to the library it defeats the purpose. So educationally they will also be harder hit. Elite independent schools might have the expectation that students have online access. Unless we're able to send a district-provided device home with every child, we cannot have this expectation.
With spring break (a two-week break here in BC) starting next Monday, I think the best thing to do is to be cautious, follow the rules on hygiene re: washing hands and coughing etc., but keep schools open, and contemplate whether to extend the break nearer to the end of the two weeks.
I've read hints (and it seems intuitive) that drastic measures such as closing schools and locking down a city are ineffective if you pull them out too early – folks either cannot self-quarantine for an extended period and/or the state cannot enforce the stringent quarantine rules. That, and you risk crippling your treasury (like Italy is doing) which will have huge long-term impacts on the education and well-being of citizens. I wouldn't be surprised, for example, if some of the Italian schools in 2025 (or even 2030) say, "We cannot afford this or that due to decisions made in the COVID-19 pandemic." I expect there to be short-term economic impacts to the VSB which will affect at least the 2020-2021 budget, and which will be felt until at least the end of my term in 2022. The next board may not be inheriting fat bank accounts to build new schools.