Valley school district stops providing meals after employee's relative tests positive for COVID-19

The relative of a school district employee in the Firebaugh-Las Deltas Unified School District tested positive for COVID-19.

The district has temporarily shut down nearly all operations, including its meal service.

Classes have been cancelled at campuses across the district since March 16, but now all offices are closed and even essential employees have been told to stay home.

Superintendent Russell Freitas sent Action News a statement saying in part:
"On Sunday, March 29, I learned that a resident of our community of Firebaugh was positively diagnosed with COVID-19. This individual is related to a Firebaugh-Las Deltas Unified School District employee. Although our employee is not symptomatic, we have made the decision with the utmost caution and responsibility of safety of our community in mind to immediately order a district-wide closure for all staff effective Monday, March 30."
Firebaugh resident Theresa Vasquez says, "It's shocking because we live in a small town, so we don't think it's going to hit us."

Vasquez helps care for her nephew, who is a student in the district. She says many families are concerned about who else may have been exposed.

She adds, "I feel bad for the kids, and I feel bad for anybody who was around that person because I'm sure they're very worried right now."

The closure also brings a temporary stop to the meal service the district was providing.

The superintendent sent out a message saying the district will now be working to sanitize all exposed work areas and notify anyone else who may have been exposed so they can self-isolate.

It also says employees who are prepared to continue performing essential functions will require a daily health screening.

The district has not yet determined when staff members will return. The superintendent says he knows the meals are important to students and their families, and the goal is to resume that service as soon as possible.

You can read the Mr. Freitas's full message to staff and district families below:

Dear FLDUSD Families,

As your Superintendent, it is my top priority during this crisis to ensure the health and well-being of the children and families of our community. We have been diligently working with the Fresno County Department of Public Health to develop and follow COVID-19 screening protocols in order to maintain essential functions for our students during school closure, including meal distribution. I now have important information I must share with you regarding the suspension of our meal distribution program.

On Sunday, March 29, I learned that a resident of our community of Firebaugh was positively diagnosed with COVID-19. This individual is related to a FLDUSD employee, which creates the possibility that other employees may have been exposed. With utmost caution and responsibility to the safety of our community and in collaboration with our district leadership, I have made the decision to immediately order a district-wide closure for all staff effective today, Monday, March 30. The purpose of this closure is to: 1) Stop any further spread of the virus by sanitizing all exposed work areas; 2) Provide an opportunity for the District to identify anyone else who may have been exposed and to notify them to self-isolate; 3) Identify other health and safety measures that are required and put those measures into place before reopening; and 4) Ensure that employees who are prepared to continue performing essential functions are cleared to do so. Clearance will require a daily health screening. I know that our students and families depend upon the healthy meals we provide and I will share all information as soon as it's available on the re-open date of our meal service. Until then, please continue to practice the safety guidelines provided by our national and local health experts to wash hands frequently, maintain social distancing and stay at home. For more information on these guidelines, please visit the Fresno County Department of Public Health website: https://www.co.fresno.ca.us/departme.../public-health/covid-19 This is an unprecedented time for our world, our nation and our community. Now is the time to help each other with patience, kindness and compassion. Together, we will persevere! Sincerely, Russell Freitas


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