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Coronavirus roundup: Hancock College moves most classes online; Pismo Preserve closed; Santa Maria-Bonita continues meal distribution
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Coronavirus roundup: Hancock College moves most classes online; Pismo Preserve closed; Santa Maria-Bonita continues meal distribution

Foodbank volunteers pack for distribution

Foodbank volunteers fill sacks with food on Monday in the Santa Maria warehouse to try to get ahead of anticipated demand for supplies from coronavirus layoffs.

Hancock College closes campuses, moving most classes online

Hancock College is moving most classes to remote instruction after faculty, staff and students were barred from its campuses Sunday to limit transmission of the coronavirus. 

Administrators will work remotely with staff over the next week to help them prepare to teach classes through alternative modalities before classes resume March 30, according to Hancock spokesman Christopher McGuinness. 

Hancock President Kevin Walthers conducted a live question-and-answer session Monday morning to address how classes will be conducted remotely, with the exception of classes in the law enforcement academy and nursing programs, which still will meet in person off-campus.

"Remote instruction means that delivery can be in any number of ways, such as online, Zoom, teleconference or group chat.  All lecture classes will go to remote delivery.  The college is looking into virtual labs to continue instruction for CTE and STEM students with the hope that competency based testing can be conducted once we return to face-to-face instruction," Walthers said.

The college declared a campus state of emergency on March 20, extending its spring break to a second week with plans to resume most classes online March 30.

Before its Sunday announcement, the college had considered holding smaller class sizes for technical career classes that are more difficult to conduct online. 

Last week, Walthers met with students and staff to discuss options for these alternative modalities, as well as to hear student concerns regarding the coronavirus compiled by members of the Hancock Associated Student Body.

Pismo Preserve closed until further noticed due to inadequate social distancing

The Pismo Preserve is closed until further notice, due to concerns about the recreation area's capacity for adequate social distancing among visitors, the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County announced Monday. 

The preserve has been extremely popular since opening to the public Jan. 25, attracting thousands of bikers, hikers and horseback riders to the 900-acre property that ranges from Shell Beach to Price Canyon east and above Pismo Beach. 

The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County purchased the property for $12 million in 2014 to prevent its development and preserve it in perpetuity for passive recreation and educational uses

After the statewide shelter-at-home order went into place, visitors have continued to crowd the area's parking lot and restrooms and clogged the trails, compromising social distancing requirements. 

"The Land Conservancy has determined that due to the design of the trails, constraints of the parking lot and restrooms, and the numbers of visitors we have seen in the last few days, the Pismo Preserve does not provide adequate opportunity for social distancing," said Kaila Dettman, Land Conservancy executive director. 

The preserve will likely reopen once the shelter-at-home order in San Luis Obsipo County is lifted, Dettman said. 

In the meantime, members of the public are encouraged to continue exercising in other areas outside, while also being considerate of the health of others by practicing social distancing. 

Santa Maria-Bonita continues meal distribution at 8 sites

The Santa Maria Bonita School District resumed meal distributions Monday and will provide supplies by appointment to remaining families in need beginning Wednesday. 

After the announcement of a statewide shelter-at-home order Thursday, meal distributions for district families were temporarily suspended Friday and, instead, offered at local high schools. Chromebook pick-ups also were suspended.

Due to limited staffing availability at distribution sites following the order, the district has consolidated its meal distribution operations this week to eight locations. 

"The consolidation of meal distribution sites was essential in order to focus the school district’s staffing resources," district spokeswoman Maggie White said.

Meals for district families are available for pickup at the following sites from 11 a.m to 1 p.m. daily:

  • Arellanes Elementary
  • El Camino Junior High School
  • Fairlawn Elementary
  • Jimenez Elementary
  • Miller Elementary
  • Rice Elementary
  • Tunnell Elementary
  • Santa Maria High School

Families are instructed to practice social distancing when arriving to pick up meals, maintaining six feet of distance between others while waiting in line. 

Parents also are permitted to pick up meals without their children present if necessary, White said.

While Chromebooks and other supplies are no longer be offered at distribution locations, those still in need of those items can arrange an appointment with district staff to pick them up beginning Wednesday. 

Parents who need Chromebook technical support can call 805-361-8155 Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. Trilingual support will be offered in English, Spanish and Mixteco.