Upper school takes precautionary measures against COVID-19 as California governor Gavin Newsom declares state of emergency


Helen Zhu

A custodial worker cleans the classrooms in Main after school yesterday. Harker is taking extra precautionary actions to ensure the appropriate sanitation of its campuses.

by Mark Hu, Winged Post STEM Editor

Governor of California Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency on March 4 to increase medical resources and standardize guidance in mitigating the spread of the virus in response to the concerns over COVID-19 in California, which has 60 confirmed cases as of March 6 and includes one death of an elderly adult with underlying health conditions in Placer County, which is near Lake Tahoe.

The state of emergency allows the Office of Emergency Services to use state-owned properties and any fairgrounds to assist in recovery efforts. In addition, the declaration requires that healthcare providers cover the costs of COVID-19 testing. 

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has approved the usage of some of the 21 million N95 filtering facepiece masks in emergency planning reserves in an announcement made Tuesday.

“The State of California is deploying every level of government to help identify cases and slow the spread of this coronavirus,” said Governor Newsom in a news release on Wednesday. “This emergency proclamation will help the state further prepare our communities and our health care system in the event it spreads more broadly.”

The upper school has started to take precautionary measures to keep students and faculty safe. Teachers are able to request cleaning supplies such as spray sanitizer, microfiber towels and nitrile gloves to wipe down desks and other hard surfaces, and administration has asked all employees to take 15 to 20 minutes at the end of each workday to sanitize workspaces in an announcement made by Janet Rohrer, Assistant Facilities Director. In addition, the science department is mandating that students wash their hands before and after class.

In a community update from Brian Yager, Head of School, the administration has implemented additional steps to keep students safe. International travel programs are canceled for the rest of the school year, including the art and anatomy trip to Italy during spring break. The Columbia Scholastic Press Association also canceled its spring convention, which Harker Journalism planned to attend later this month. Self-serve stations in the cafeteria have been closed, and the school plans to follow the COVID-19 Risk Level Response Plan to determine further action as the situation develops.

Several organizations and communities in the Bay Area have decided to cancel events that consist of large numbers of people in a tight area. The Youth Climate Action Summit, which was scheduled to take place at the Tech Interactive in San Jose today, has been canceled due to caution regarding the coronavirus; all tickets will be refunded. The Fremont Union High School District has also decided to cancel all school rallies, assemblies and dances until April 3.

A previous version of this article implied that Harker had canceled the journalism’s trip to New York, yet CSPA decided to cancel the convention due to concerns over the coronavirus. The article has been updated to reflect this error.