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County schools ordered to close; MUSD ahead of the curve

Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune

Madera Unified School District Board of Trustees members contemplate the next step in the ongoing COVID-19 response plan.


In an attempt to help contain the coronavirus threat, the Madera County Health Department issued an order late Friday afternoon directing all Madera County schools to close.

Ironically, at the time of the directive, Madera Unified trustees were already in an emergency executive session to deal with the next step they would take in the fight to keep the school community safe in the face of the virus.

MUSD’s administrative team had been in close consultation with other districts and county agencies in Madera and Fresno counties for two weeks, and over the past few days Superintendent Todd Lile and his executive cabinet had been working on a “COVID-19 Response Plan.

On Thursday, Lile and his cabinet met with other MUSD administrators, directors, coordinators and all school principals to go over the plan and make any necessary changes. By five o’clock p.m. Thursday, the district was fully prepared to take the next step with a plan that dealt with four different scenarios.

Scenario One examined measures that were already underway in an attempt to strengthen what had already been put in place. Where improvements were called for, appropriate action steps were included along with the individuals who would be responsible for taking those actions.

Scenario Two included measures that would be taken if there were two or more community transmissions of the virus but no individual within the schools tested positive.

Scenario Three established measures to be taken if one student, teacher or staff member tested positive for the virus and exposed it at school.

Scenario Four dealt with measures that would be taken if more than one school had a student, teacher or staff member who tested positive for the virus.

Lile and his administrative team then consulted with the MUSD school board leadership. They shared the plan and collaboration that had taken place with other agencies and school districts. Board leadership then determined the need to convene the full board, thus trustees met in an emergency meeting at 5:30 p.m. Two hours later trustees announced that MUSD schools would close and remain closed until April 14, 2020.

In a communication that followed, the district announced that it was working on learning activities for students to do while the schools are closed. It also announced that all students, including any children under the age of 18, would be able to pick up packaged lunches and breakfasts for the following day. In both cases, the district promised that details would be forthcoming.

Lile emphasized the community cooperation that is taking place to combat the current health threat. Speaking of other county agencies, Lile said, “Good collaboration matters, and they have been good partners with all the schools in Madera County.

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