Closures, cancellations mount in response to restrictive measures

Closures, cancellations mount in response to shelter-in-place order

Closures, cancellations mount in response to restrictive measures
Hand-sanitizing stations have become the norm around the county, including this one in front of JCPenney at Sunvalley Shopping Center in Concord (contributed photo).

Day to day life has been turned on its head as the coronavirus triggered a wave of local cancellations and closures in the wake of county health officials setting forth strict recommendations in a bid to mitigate the spread of the global pandemic.

Gov. Gavin Newsome has ordered all bars, nightclubs, breweries, wineries, which he deemed “nonessential’’ be closed. Restaurants will remain open but are asked to reduce their current occupancy by half.

His new order also asks all seniors 65 or older and those with chronic conditions to home isolate.

Unprecedented widespread contingency plans coming from all levels will impact daily happenings for the rest of this month, well into April and even the early portion of May.

A recent scheduled luncheon with eighth graders from Walnut Creek-based Palmer School at the Café and planned visits by firefighters to check smoke detectors of homebound clients are two examples of events that Meals on Wheels Diablo Region reluctantly canceled, said executive director Caitlin Sly, who faces an unprecedent crisis barely three months into the job.

“March for Meals is a celebration time for our volunteers, staff and people we serve, and to cancel is very unfortunate,” Sly said.

She said the organization was developing contingency plans. “We are definitely talking to public health officials and working closely with them to know how to best serve our clients in a safe way. We have to continue our mission of providing our nutritious meals to the most vulnerable and isolated members in the community.”

Schools finally say ‘Uncle’

While other Bay Area school districts announced closuresClosures, cancellations mount in response to restrictive measures one-by-one, officials in the Mount Diablo and Martinez school districts, and Clayton Valley Charter High School held out. But by March 13, with California already declaring a state of emergency, they made the painful decision to institute temporary closures.  CVCHS’s closure took effect March 16, while MDUSD’s began 24 hours later.

MDUSD is expecting classes to resume April 13. School officials expressed their desire to make possible the most equitable approaches to instruction, which will involve both online resources and traditional resources. They expected soon access to materials through teacher webpages.

Some services, including breakfast and lunch, will continue at the following locations: Cambridge, Meadow Homes, Ygnacio Valley, College Park, El Dorado, River View, Foothill, and Mt. Diablo high. Visit the district webpage at for details.

The coronavirus took a direct hit to the annual Key Club DCON District Convention in Reno. Students from all MDUSD schools had planned to attend, representing their Kiwanis-backed high school service organizations, according to John Altschull, who has served as the club faculty advisor at College Park High School for 16 years.

“It is sad that they had to cancel. This event is very big for so many youngsters, and so many kids every year say that DCON is one of their best memories from high school,’’ said Altschull, who had seven students attending.

CVCHS officials did not announce a timetable for resuming classes or how instruction would continue. Executive director Jim Scheible directed students and parents to the website at

When the school reopens, visitors to campus during and after the school day will be restricted and all parent meetings will be held by phone. These changes may impact deliveries to campus, including DoorDash.

Classes for students at Carondelet and De La Salle high schools will move online through March 27. Carondelet and De La Salle faculty and staff had been preparing for this change over the past few weeks.

“We are confident that students’ learning experience will continue as normal as possible amidst these abnormal times,” according to a joint statement from the institutions.

All schools in the Diocese of Oakland will be closed until early April. St. Agnes and St. Francis of Assisi, which closed April 18, are scheduled to reopen April 1, while Queen of All Saints, which closed March 17, planned to restart April 3. Online learning programs will be available where possible. Otherwise, teachers will be preparing a traditional agenda of assigned work during this period.

All area school extracurricular activities, including sports, will be during the closures. In an example of the long-term impact of the coronavirus, the status of spring sports seasons across the state is also in doubt. The California Interscholastic Federation, which governs all high school sports, was slated to meet soon to discuss this topic.

Wheels of government turning, with caveats

As Concord city manager Valerie Barone declared a local state of emergency March 13, the city was working to protect city staff and the public.

“If you are a public-facing staff member and you do not wish to shake hands with a customer, it is perfectly acceptable to decline handshakes,” Barone said.

Concord Mayor Tim McGallian regarded the unprecedented public health crisis as requiring “swift action.”

“We are working closely with our local and state partners to determine how best to keep our residents and our staff safe. Although these measures may feel burdensome, we must do our part to encourage the social distancing that is required to slow the spread of this disease and preserve critical care capacity for those who need it most,” he added.

Clayton city manager Ikani Taumoepeau said the March 17 City Council meeting agenda had consent items only; all major items were moved to next month.

“Due to COVID19, we are practicing safe social distancing for council, residents and staff by offering a teleconferencing alternative for the 3/17 council meeting,” he said.

All county library branches also are now closed until further notice, taking effect March 16, further complicating lives of parents and children who saw that as a reliable haven.

“Closing libraries is a necessary step for the health and safety of our communities,” said County Librarian Melinda Cervantes. “We hope this will help people to avoid further transmission or exposure to the virus.”

Numerous services are still available online, including access to eBooks and eAudiobooks with Overdrive/Libby, streaming movies through Kanopy and Video Storytime.

Book drops will remain open. However, as materials can carry viruses for several days, patrons should keep items until the libraries reopen. The Library will automatically extend due dates on all materials. All overdue fines were eliminated in 2019 and no other negative consequences will result from late items during this closure.

For questions about Library services or account information, contact the library via Chat Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., call (800) 984-4636, or visit

Courts hoping April 1 is no joke

Personnel in Contra Costa Superior Court expect to hear the gavels fall again on April 1, when regular proceedings are scheduled to commence. Courts were shuttered starting March 16.

The exception was for jurors ordered to appear in court on March 16 for criminal trials. They were told to report to the court, and judges would provide guidance as to any further proceedings.

Any hearings scheduled during this period will be reset to a later date. Those with scheduled jury service will have it rescheduled and contacted by mail.

Custody arraignments scheduled during this period will be handled in Martinez, with counsel permitted at all arraignments while the courthouses are closed to the public.

If anyone needs to seek an emergency protective order and/or a temporary guardianship, they should contact their local police agency. Or if necessary, call the juvenile or criminal arraignment departments at 925-608-1199.

“Importantly, this closure is not in response to a specific notice of exposure at any court facility or to any court staff,” court officials said.

For updates, check the court website at

‘Cleanliness is key’ at Sunvalley

In a proactive bid to ensure a safe environment for visitors and employees, a Taubman Corp. taskforce canceled all events at its properties, including Sunvalley Shopping Center in Concord, until further notice. This includes Sunvalley’s annual “Bunnyville’’ Easter photo experience. In addition, the spring tenant meeting was canceled, said Elaine de Lara, Sunvalley’s marketing and sponsorship specialist.

The latest actions came as mall officials stepped up the frequency of disinfecting high-touch surfaces like handrails, strollers, doors and tables with stronger cleaning agents. The mall also installed seven additional hand-sanitizing stations to bolster the 13 already in place.

“Cleanliness is key,” de Lara said.