Portola Valley School District COVID-19 FAQ

School Closure for Students

ATTENTION: PVSD will not be holding on-campus classes through May 3, 2020.

This PVSD COVID-19 FAQ document will remain updated and available until the COVID-19 outbreak has ended. Check this site regularly for the most up-to-date information from PVSD staff.

San Mateo County Health: COVID-19 Updates and Information

San Mateo County Alert System: The new number for the San Mateo County COVID-19 Public Call Center is 211. This line is open 24/7 in multiple languages. You can also text "coronavirus" to 211211 for information and updates. Are PVSD schools closed and for how long? As of Friday, March 13, 2020, PVSD schools are closed to the public. The District Office is open Monday-Friday, 11:00 A.M - 2:00 P.M. for essential services. MEAL AVAILABILITY DURING SCHOOL CAMPUS CLOSURE Children under 18 may visit the PVSD District Office for drive-thru meals; please e-mail Lunch@pvsd.net to coordinate a time. Meals are also offered by neighboring districts all locations throughout the peninsula, see HERE for more information.

What is the most recent communication from Superintendent Zarea? Review Ms. Zarea's Thursday, April 2, 2020 email Review Mrs. Zarea's Friday March 27, 2020 email Review Mrs. Zarea's Wednesday March 25, 2020 email Review Mrs. Zarea's Monday March 23, 2020 email Lunch Program Review Mrs. Zarea's Monday March 23, 2020 email Dr. Scott Morrow Review Mrs. Zarea's Friday March 20, 2020 email Review Mrs. Zarea's Thursday March 12, 2020 email 6:00 P.M. Review Mrs. Zarea's Thursday March 12, 2020 email 12:10 P.M. Review Mrs. Zarea's Monday March 9, 2020 email Review Mrs. Zarea's Wednesday March 4, 2020 email Review Mrs. Zarea's Monday February 10, 2020 email Review Mrs. Zarea's Thursday February 6, 2020 email

The Tuesday, March 31, 2020 Revised Order from the San Mateo County Health Officer has been EXTENDED.

The Order will require schools to dismiss students from regular attendance, and encourages schools and school districts to implement at-home learning models if feasible.

Additionally, the Order permits school facilities to remain open to staff for the purposes of performing tasks deemed essential or necessary by the school or District, and for providing limited and special services to students as deemed appropriate by the School and/or District. Copies of the press announcement, and EXTENSION Press Release may be found here.
Copies of the original Order, and March 31st Revised Order may be found here.

What is “coronavirus” and what is COVID-19; how are they different?

Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), "Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China. The World Health Organization has additional information about the disease and the virus. Coronavirus is an umbrella term. There are many strains of coronavirus and the diseases they cause. The current situation relates specifically to COVID-19.

All San Mateo County school districts are coordinating messaging; however, each district has its own unique communication plan and style. In PVSD, we will send periodic emails when necessary and regularly update this PVSD CODID-19 FAQ page for up to the minute changes and direction
We will attempt to manage fear by providing emails only when necessary as to support our community in remaining calm, accessing correct information, and focusing on controlling what we can control.

What events has PVSD cancelled in light of the COVID-19 outbreak?
All non essential activities and events have been cancelled.

Continuing activities include: 
PVSD Governing Board of Trustees meetings

How does COVID-19 spread? 

Person-to-Person Spread
The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
Can someone spread the virus without being sick?
People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
Spread from contact with infected surfaces or objects
It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. 

What are the dangers to children and how might they be different than for adults? 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have provided these answers as it relates to children and COVID-19.

What PRECAUTIONS can I take to help avoid contracting COVID-19 or exposing my children to it? 

The SMC Health Department and other health officials are clear that the same precautions you would use for the seasonal flu, you should employ to guard against COVID-19. As recommended by San Mateo County Health:

  1. Cover your cough and sneeze. 
  2. Wash your hands frequently. 
  3. Avoid shaking hands and touching your face with unwashed hands. 
  4. If you are not feeling well or are experiencing cold, flu, or other symptoms, contact your primary care provider and stay home from school or work.
  5. Like washing your hands, wearing a surgical mask may help a bit but you need to know that surgical masks don’t offer much protection when they are worn by people who are well. They are most helpful when worn by those who are already sick, so that they are less likely to transmit the disease to others. Surgical masks are already in short supply and should be prioritized for use in health care settings.
  6. You should use a barrier, such as a paper towel or tissue, to touch commonly touched surfaces, such as bathroom door handles or elevator buttons.

What can I do to PREPARE my family and me for COVID-19’s future spread? 

There is no way of knowing how COVID-19 will spread, who has it, and if or how someone will get it. The virus situation changes by the hour. Confirmed cases of “community transmision” have been reported in the area, thus resulting in changes to how the virus’s spread will be approached. 

The most important thing that you can do besides regular flu precautions is to PREPARE for infection and/or the impacts of infection. You can visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for suggestions on preparing your home and life; Dr. Scott Morrow of SMC Health Department recommends asking yourself these questions:

  1. How will I take care of myself if I become sick?
  2. How will I take care of my family if they become sick?
  3. If school needs to be cancelled for some reason, what child care would I need to arrange? 
  4. What supplies might I need to stock up on that are readily available in case the supply chain is interrupted for some reason? 

Some other questions you might ask yourself are:

  1. Do I have an ample supply of my daily medications, critical meds, and any medications that would be necessary to treat symptoms of the flu? (Example: adult and children’s acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and/or cough medicine.)
  2. Is my earthquake kit up to date and ready to go in as much as it has general emergency supplies that might be of help? (Of course, having supplies beyond the typical earthquake kit is a good idea. What you decide to have on hand is based on your individual and family situation.)

Knowing answers to these questions prior to an elevated situation will go a long way to ensuring your comfort and safety in a myriad of scenarios.

What is one of the biggest dangers in a potential or confirmed “pandemic” situation and how can I manage this danger?

Humans often manage communication using “mirror neurons.” Mirror neurons observe the behavior and emotion of others (or the news media) and our brains react by mirroring the emotion. Understanding this, it is important to manage our mirror neurons in times of heightened fear to protect ourselves from becoming susceptible to inaccurate or emotionally-charged information. There is a lot of fear due to the unknown. We can de-escalate our mirror neurons by staying calm, remaining informed, and controlling what we have control over (such as precaution and preparation). The more we can manage our mirror neurons, the more logically we can respond. 

Remember that children’s “mirror neurons” are also in full effect. If we approach information in a calm, informed, age appropriate manner, we are most likely to help our children manage any potential fear or confusion. 


How should I talk to my child about the COVID-19?
There is no "right way" to talk to your child about hard subjects. Every child and every family is different. PVSD school counselors and classroom teachers will remain available daily to receive your emails of concern should your child be experiencing acute anxiety around COVID-19. Please feel free to reach out. Here are some resources you may find helpful as you talk to your child:

What should I do if I or my child test positive for COVID-19, suspect I or my child might have it, or suspect I or my child have come into contact with someone who has COVID-19?

It is essential that PVSD have the most up to date information regarding possible exposures. As such, students, parents, and staff are partners with us in limiting the spread of the virus. PVSD is receiving clear guidance from both the San Mateo County Health Department and the California Department of Public Health.

Will schools know if a student has been exposed to COVID-19?

San Mateo County Health Department made it clear to us that it is nearly impossible to know now when or if someone is exposed. The first phase of the COVID-19 response was to contain, but recent changes in the spread mean that anyone could have been exposed, any time, at any location.

Will the district know if a district student or a student’s family has contracted COVID-19? 

If a PVSD student, staff, or parent tests positive for COVID-19, the patient or patient’s family is asked to contact the Superintendent’s Office immediately. We expect all staff and parents to notify the school district at the first sign of a positive diagnosis for COVID-19. It is likely that the San Mateo Health Department will also notify the school district; however, please don’t rely on them to do so. The District’s ability to keep students and staff safe is dependent on the best information as soon as it is known. 


If my child has a compromised immune system, should I be more concerned about COVID-19?

COVID-19 is also known as the "novel" coronavirus because it is "new." There is still a lot researchers do not know. Early results of the outbreak seem to indicate that the most severe consequences of contracting COVID-19 are concentrated in older adults (50+) and those with compromised immune systems. PVSD is unable to provide medical advice. However, if your student suffers from a compromised immune system, we do encourage you to reach out to your primary care physician. Parents of students with IEP-related medical issues or medical plans are welcome to reach out to the school offices with specific questions.  

Are absences excused or unexcused?

At this time, distance learning attendance guidelines are being set by the State of California and the County of San Mateo.


What if I think my child may have been exposed to COVID-19?
Please notify your school office immediately if you think your child may have been exposed. For more guidance see the CDC's COVID-19 information site.

How will PVSD handle campus visitors until COVID-19 spread is controlled?
As is always the case, visitors are required to sign in every time they arrive on campus and wear a visitor badge. Visitors who have potential exposure or are at high risk will be asked not to be on campus at this time. Additionally:
  • Campus visitors are requested to follow the handwashing practices that staff and students are practicing. See question in this FAQ about proper handwashing.

How will PVSD handle field trips until COVID-19 spread is controlled?

All PVSD field trips have been cancelled.


What cleaning precaution is PVSD taking to help alleviate the spread of illness? 

San Mateo County Health Department offers no special cleaning directions during this period beyond the high standard of PVSD cleaning practices. However, out of an abundance of caution and to alleviate fears, our hard-working custodial staff have all received reminders of their training and specific guidelines to disinfect high-traffic locations such as door handles, faucet handles, phones, physical education equipment, and student learning surfaces. PVSD uses state-recommended cleaning materials with fidelity. 

What hand washing precautions is PVSD taking to help alleviate the spread of illness? 

Handwashing is always recommended during the cold and flu season; this season is no exception. Proper handwashing is one of the most effective ways to limit the spread of COVID-19. Parents are asked to encourage their children to wash hands regularly AND to practice, especially with younger children, appropriate and effective hand washing practices

How is PVSD handling family travel and/or new students during the COVID-19 threat? 

Schools cannot limit or control the travel or registration of any family. Travel restrictions are the responsibility of the federal government, although PVSD will take the proper and legal precautions to ensure health and safety. PVSD remains a welcoming place respectful of its role as a public institution. 


If PVSD has knowledge of travel from outside the US during the school year, we may request that parents provide a “clean bill of health” record from a primary care physician before returning. If registering to attend PVSD schools from another country, please be prepared to provide confirmation of your entry date into the US to confirm a 14-day period before starting school. These expectations may change as the situation changes. Any new guidelines will be shared here. 


What local, state, or national communication has the district received and provided to parents through this COVID-19 FAQ?

LINK to all messages from Scott Morrow, San Mateo County Health Officers

What additional sites might parents be interested in visiting for information?

Who should I contact at the District if I have questions or information?
Please know that we have access to the most updated information and news. While we appreciate the articles and resources you send, we feel confident we are getting the information we need.


If you have questions or information about your own child’s health, please contact your school’s office. 

If you have questions or information about this FAQ or about PVSD’s COVID-19 response in general, please emaiinfo@pvsd.net. This email is monitored daily, however please understand that we may not respond to your message individually.

How often should I check PVSD's COVID-19 FAQ? 

As often as you feel necessary. The information will be maintained daily and the most current information will be included in the document. If important information is shared that parents need to know, we will email you to alert you to additions or changes to the COVID-19 FAQ. PVSD will provide the most up-to-date links from local, state, and national officials in this FAQ.