Schools in Los Angeles and San Diego, which serve more than 750,000 students combined, will close today until further notice, district officials announced in a joint statement Friday.
"California has now entered a critical new phase in the fight to stop the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic," Austin Beutner, superintendent of Los Angeles Unified School District, and Cindy Marten, superintendent of San Diego Unified School District, said in a joint statement.
"There is evidence the virus is already present in the communities we serve, and our efforts now must be aimed at preventing its spread," they said. "We believe closing the state's two largest school districts will make an important contribution to this effort. For that reason, we plan to close, effective Monday, March 16."
The superintendents did not say for how long they anticipate being closed but said they'll provide more information Friday afternoon about how schools will offer "learning opportunities" for students during the closure.
Anticipating this situation, Beutner recently partnered with a public broadcasting company to offer students instruction on their televisions should he be forced to cancel school. It's unclear whether that programming will also be available to students in San Diego or whether Marten already has a plan in place.
As it stands, at least 18,700 schools enrolling more than 8.1 million students have closed or will close, according to Education Week. Los Angeles is the second-largest school district in the country and will provide the first test case for other major cities, like New York and Chicago, which are debating whether or not to remain open.
Lauren Camera is a senior writer at US News and World Report