El Cerrito Coronavirus Cases; New Death In Contra Costa

Bea Karnes

EL CERRITO, CA — For parents anxious about their children returning to the classroom in the fall, California education officials on Monday unveiled a new set of guidelines with recommendations including face coverings for all students and teachers, social distancing inside classrooms, and the continued presence of distance learning.

The guidelines do not include any required changes, nor any suggestions for when school districts should reopen.

Distance learning is likely to be paired with in-person classes, creating a "hybrid model" in many districts.

>> CA Schools Reopening: Masks For Students, Staff, Smaller Classes

The Palmer School for Boys and Girls in Walnut Creek, a private school which opened in 1939 and had 385 students last year, has closed permanently because of coronavirus. "The school has been devastated by the pandemic, and our program cannot be sustained in the face of the ongoing uncertainty," Headmaster Sam Mendes, a grandson of the school's founders, said in an email to parents Friday.

"There was anguished wailing, and crying, and it caught everybody by surprise," said Kevin Freels of Moraga, who attended Palmer for nine years, graduating in 1974. His son graduated from Palmer four years ago, and his daughter two years ago.

>> Walnut Creek School Closes Abruptly Due To Coronavirus

Meanwhile, U.C. Berkeley researchers gave the world of chilling glimpse of what could have happened if health officials had not taken swift and decisive actions to thwart the uncontrolled spread of coronavirus.

In a peer-reviewed study published in Nature, analysts who looked at the containment and prevention policies in China, South Korea, Italy, Iran, France, and the United Stated report that 500 million cases of coronavirus were prevented.

"I don't think any human endeavor has ever saved so many lives in such a short period of time," said lead author Solomon Hsiang, the director of UC Berkeley's Global Policy Laboratory. "There have been huge personal costs to staying home and canceling events, but the data show that each day made a profound difference."

>> Half-Billion Coronavirus Cases Averted: UC Berkeley Researchers

Prior to shelter-in-place orders being enacted in the Bay Area there was great fear that hospitals would be overrun, and health workers would be forced to choose who would get a ventilator and who would not. On Monday, just 234 people were hospitalized in the entire Bay Area for complications from COVID-19.

The death toll in Contra Costa County rose by one on Monday to 40. In El Cerrito, the number of cases since the beginning of the pandemic is now 11.

California's death toll from coronavirus has risen to 4,633, according to the latest tracking statistics from Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. death toll is 110,876; and worldwide, 405,002 people have lost their lives to coronavirus.

Full coronavirus coverage: Coronavirus In California: What To Know

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— Patch editors Nick Garber and Bea Karnes, and Bay City News contributed to this story

This article originally appeared on the El Cerrito Patch