Fremont Playground (copy)

Fremont Elementary School has a large playground — it and the school both have been closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Long Beach Unified School District extended its in-person shutdown through May 3, officials have announced.

School closures, which were first announced last week amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, were originally supposed to last through April 20.

But, in a Friday, March 20, statement, district officials said that timeline had been lengthened by two weeks. The announcement came as Los Angeles County Superintendent of Schools Debra Duardo recommended all districts extend their closures to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

“In the interest of public safety and the health of our children and most vulnerable community members, we are asking our 80 school districts to remain closed with students returning on May 5,” Duardo said in a statement. “School closures will help prevent transmission of the coronavirus, which is everyone’s goal today.

“I commend our school district leaders and their staff, students and families,” Duardo added, “for all that they are doing to ensure that learning continues, and that vital nutrition and meal services are provided.”

LBUSD, for its part, said schools may open Monday, May 4, but it’s also possible the closures will be extended again. The spring semester is slated to end June 11.

“The foremost consideration in this decision,” the district’s statement said, “was the health of everyone in local school communities.”

On Thursday, March 19, Long Beach Unified officials updated the district’s plan for instruction throughout the shutdown and released a new plan for children under the age of 18 to receive free meals while schools are closed.

Schools have been among the many facilities targeted for closure amid the pandemic because the coronavirus travels easily among people in close proximity. Experts recommend maintaining 6 feet of distance between people to prevent further spread of 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.

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