Chris Steinhauser

Superintendent Chris Steinhauser at his desk.

The Long Beach Unified School District is canceling a number of events and programming amid fears about the new coronavirus, Superintendent Christopher Steinhauser announced Thursday, March 12.

Classes, however, remain in session.

LBUSD is the third largest school district in California and the biggest employer in Long Beach. The district serves more than 71,000 students.

In a note sent out to district families, Steinhauser said the following would be canceled:

• All large indoor school events;

• All Saturday academic programming (with the exception of “for credit” courses) and “Super Saturday” playground programs;

• All district professional development that causes staff to leave their campuses; and

• All nonessential districtwide parent and community meetings.

Steinhauser also said the district is in the process of canceling the use of school facilities by outside organizations.

Sports events, meanwhile, will go forward with essential staff but no spectators.

“We are doing everything we can to mitigate the potential spread of the new coronavirus,” Steinhauser said, “while also being prepared for quick action to address any potential specific instances involving our students and families.”

In addition to canceling events and programming, the superintendent said LBUSD is sanitizing high-touch areas more often with approved antibacterial products and reminding students, families and staff about necessary precautions, like handwashing.

Over the coming weekend, he added, all schools will have custodial staff working in them to do additional sanitizing.

Thursday’s news came the day after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced he would like all events of more than 250 people to be canceled or postponed, at least through the end of March, due to COVID-19.

COVID-19, which stands for coronavirus disease 2019, is caused by a virus named SARS-CoV-2. Symptoms associated with the respiratory disease, which appear two-to-14 days after exposure, include fever, a cough and shortness of breath. While most people — including healthy young adults — will experience mild symptoms, the disease can be severe and possibly fatal for at-risk groups, such as the elderly and those with other health problems.

Cal State Long Beach and Long Beach City College have both gone a step further and have suspended most in-person classes in favor of online instruction.

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