County health officials declare first Los Angeles death from COVI-19
By Sam Catanzaro
Santa Monica College (SMC) and Crossroads are switching to remote learning as health officials have declared the first death from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in LA County.
In a Wednesday evening news release, SMC said it was temporarily transitioning most in-person classes to a remote learning environment, effective Wednesday, March 18. According to SMC, there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus at SMC.
SMC classes will be canceled Friday, March 13 through Tuesday, March 17 to allow time for faculty members, staff and students to prepare for the transition to remote teaching.
SMC remains open for business and most campus operations are continuing. Certain classes that require in-person instruction — some laboratory, physical education and performing arts courses— will continue to meet on campus as scheduled, according to the college.
In addition, SMC has suspended in-person classes and activities at SMC Emeritus saying there will be no in-person classes until further notice. Some Emeritus classes will resume via remote methods, says the college.
The college has also called off spring study-abroad trips to Costa Rica, Helsinki and Tallinn while suspending large gatherings and extra-curricular activities. Athletic events will be conducted wherever possible without spectators, says SMC.
“Santa Monica College has been monitoring the COVID-19 crisis constantly, ever since it first broke out,” said SMC Superintendent/President Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery. “The college has had to weigh a vast set of considerations—first and foremost, the safety and wellbeing of our students and employees, but also upholding our educational mission of equity and open access in this time of uncertainty. These latest changes were carefully considered keeping all these factors in mind, and to ensure that no student would be left behind in the transition to remote learning modalities.”
K-12 school Crossroads also announced that it will be conducting remote learning. The school is closed to students Thursday, March 12 and Friday, March 13 to allow staff and faculty time to finalize their remote learning plans.
“We want to stress that there are no known cases of any Crossroads community member having been exposed to COVID-19,” the school said in a statement. “We will continue to monitor events over the next two days and remain in close contact will local health officials, doctors and other advisers to help us make a socially responsible decision. We will let our community know by the end of the day Friday whether School will reopen on Monday or if we will proceed with remote learning.”
Both the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District and the Los Angeles Unified School District remain in session as of Thursday.
On Wednesday, health officials announced the first death from the virus. The individual (a non-resident visiting friends) was an older adult who traveled extensively over the past month, including a long layover in South Korea.
According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health), the total number of cases in Los Angeles County is 27 as of Wednesday.
“We strongly recommend that all Los Angeles County residents, workers, students, and visitors take the necessary precautions to protect themselves against novel coronavirus. Public Health will continue working with local, state, federal, and community partners in order to prevent future cases and to educate those in Los Angeles County about how to avoid contracting COVID-19,” said Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Los Angeles County Public Health Director.
Public Health continues to recommend that the public do the following to protect themselves and others from respiratory illnesses:
- Avoid non-essential travel, public gatherings, or places where large groups of people congregate, such as ticketed events (such as theaters, concert halls, and sporting events) if you are at higher risk of getting very sick from infection, such as the elderly (65 or older), people with underlying health conditions, and pregnant women.
- Abstain from all cruise ship travel, as suggested by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- Avoid travel to all areas where there are outbreaks of COVID-19.
- Follow all social distancing recommendations issued by Public Health.
- If you are mildly sick with a fever, stay home until you have been fever-free for 72 hours, except to get medical care.
- Those with high risk factors and who have fever or new or worsening cough, should consider contacting their providers earlier when they are sick.
- Event organizers should consider postponing or cancelling non-essential community events, especially those that may be attended by the elderly, pregnant women, or people with chronic health conditions.
- Additional things you can do to protect yourself, your family and your community on our website.