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Bay Area Students Adapt As Education System Grapples With Coronavirus Outbreak

PALO ALTO (KPIX 5) -- Students across the Bay Area are adapting to online classes, canceled events and "deep cleanings" as the education system grapples with the coronavirus outbreak.

On Wednesday, Mission College in Santa Clara began suspending in-person classes, the latest campus to join an ever-growing list of higher education institutions to take the dramatic measure of moving lessons to an online format.

This includes, but is not limited to: Academy of Art, San Francisco State University, City College of San Francisco, Santa Clara University, Stanford University, San Jose City Community College, UC Santa Cruz, UC Berkeley, Golden Gate University, Cal State University East Bay, San Jose State University, and Evergreen Valley College.

"We have a team of people working on this. This was not an easy decision by any stretch of the imagination," said Niall Adler, Director of Marketing, Public Relations and Sports Information at Mission College.

Mission College remains open, in part to serve students who do not have access to computers or high-speed internet readily available. The campus was mostly empty and the library was well stocked with wipes and hand sanitizer. There have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at Mission.

It has become evident that health officials are taking the infections at schools on a case-by-case basis.

At Oak Grove High School in San Jose, a student came into contact with a confirmed case but did not get sick. The school underwent a deep cleaning over the weekend before it reopened.

Lowell High School in San Francisco was shut down for five days when a parent tested positive.

ICA Cristo Rey In San Francisco, will be shut down for a two weeks after a custodian tested positive. In fact, all Catholic schools in Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo are closed for two weeks.

Santa Clara County Public Health Director Dr. Sara Cody has been resistant to widespread shutdowns of schools.

"We know from experience with influenza, and it's mostly modeling, that if you close a school, it can interrupt transmission and dampen it down. We don't have those data for COVID-19. We don't know whether COVID-19 behaves that way, and whether children serve as an amplifier. So that's an unknown," said Cody.

For the foreseeable future, tens of thousands of college students across the Bay Area must navigate the pitfalls of online learning, with all its distractions and temptations to procrastinate.

"What happens is, a lot of students wait until the weekend. And then something fun comes along, and then they push it out even further," said student Morgan Miller.

"I definitely put my phone away, because if I hear a notification, I'm on it," said Mario Nevarez.

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