Monterey County Office of Education

Leadership, Support and Service to Prepare All Students for Success

Dr. Deneen Guss, County Superintendent of Schools

Information for Employees

March 20, 2020


TO:      MCOE All Staff

FROM:  Dr. Deneen Guss, Monterey County Superintendent of Schools

RE:      Coronavirus Update for MCOE Staff


Information for MCOE Staff

We understand that these are unprecedented times in the history of our county, our state, our nation and our school system. I want to thank you again for your flexibility and dedication during this difficult and anxious time. Information changes hourly, but MCOE is committed to serving our essential function of support for our districts, students, and communities. Furthermore, we want to ensure the safety of our employees. Please see below for information and decisions as they stand today. Moving forward in this dynamic situation, please ensure you check your MCOE email account twice daily -  at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. for new messages with important information. 

Shelter-in-Place Orders for Monterey County and California 

On Tuesday, March 17, 2020, the Monterey County Health Officer issued a Shelter-in-Place Order to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus. This order went into effect on Wednesday, March 18 at 12:01 a.m. until 11:59 p.m on Tuesday, April 7 at 12:01 p.m. The order identified educational institutions as a business deemed essential for the purposes of facilitating distance learning or performing essential functions and continuation of government. In addition, per Government Code 3100, all public employees are considered disaster service workers, subject to disaster service activities.

On Thursday, March 19, the Governor issued an Executive “Stay Home” Order for the entire state of California. The Order was effective immediately. At this time, the order does not change or impact our role, considered essential, and our duty to carry out the following essential services:

  • Meals being prepared and delivered to students.

  • Any function associated with keeping the continuity of learning moving forward.

For additional guidance on essential functions, and furthermore, our role as essential employees, please see information at The Education Facilities Subsector covers pre-kindergarten through grade 12 schools, institutions of higher education, and business and trade schools. The subsector includes facilities that are owned by both government and private sector entities.

Due to these orders, we have decided to implement the following protocols effective Monday, March 23, 2020, until further notification. The dynamic nature of this pandemic leads to a lot of uncertainty, so we will regularly update you if we expect to change these operations. We are expecting this pandemic will continue for many weeks, possibly months.

  • MCOE Main Office is closed to the public. Critical workers serving essential functions will be reporting to the office only as long as it takes for the specific function to be completed.

  • All regular employees will remain in paid status.

  • Employees not required to conduct duties on-site, are expected to work remotely to the extent possible. Your supervisor will communicate with you about individual responsibilities.

  • We will continue to implement good hygiene practices and “social distancing” protocols.

  • MCOE Offices will continue to meet the needs of the public.

  • MCOE will continue to implement additional actions to protect the safety of our employees as recommended by the county and state public health departments.

  • Employees who meet the definition of high risk will only work remotely to the extent possible.

  • If you have additional questions, please contact your supervisor so that she/he can relay those questions to the Human Resources Department for clarification. 

We are so very grateful for all of the employees who are truly going above and beyond to ensure that our essential operations continue. Thank you all for your continued service, flexibility and professionalism. Working together, we will remain safe and healthy while fulfilling our essential service roles.

March 16, 2020

Dear MCOE Team,

As you are aware, we are in an unprecedented time with a global pandemic that has spread quickly from country to country. It may threaten the health and safety of our high risk students and staff that have underlying health conditions or are immunocompromised. The health and safety of our students, families, and staff are our highest priorities. While experts would agree that most children are resilient in the face of COVID-19, many of our students come into contact with family members, caregivers, school staff, and the community at large that may not be as resilient. One prevention measure that has shown positive results in reducing the spread of the virus is social distancing. It is challenging for schools to implement social distancing when so many of our facilities are not equipped for this at this time. Thus, we are implementing temporary school closures to students in a bold effort to slow the spread of the virus and give educators the time to prepare our schools for alternative education methods should the virus continue to spread and schools must remain closed.

The decision to implement temporary school closures was made after much deliberation and with the concurrence with our local Health Department, all district superintendents and their boards, as well as our County Board of Education. We are still at a very low risk level in Monterey County, and it is important that we approach the situation in a calm manner. The negative impacts of school closures are significant, therefore we must prepare for how we can quickly and safely ensure that the academic, social and emotional learning, and in many cases some of the basic needs of our students are met while we prepare for our students’ return. While it is always the expectation that we demonstrate professionalism and teamwork, I am asking you now to go above and beyond the call of duty, and that we all pull together to do whatever it takes to provide the best leadership, undying support, and excellent service to our schools and in our programs. We will continue to remain focused on keeping our students’ and families’ needs first! Our county is counting on us!

The intent of the attached document is to help each MCOE team member understand our situation more thoroughly, and also to provide clear expectations for how our work environment will change while we are dealing with this pandemic. Please read it carefully. This is the first time in the history of Monterey County that all schools are being temporarily closed to contain a pandemic. Our response plan may not be perfect, but will evolve as we learn more. As we progress, we will debrief and adjust our course as needed. I promise to keep you informed and I am asking that all team members be patient, flexible, and supportive as we will learn together through this health crisis. 

I am confident - just like Linda Darling Hammond - that, “Our schools are in good hands…..hands that have been washed with soap and water for at least 20 seconds!”

With warm regards,

Dr. Deneen Guss
Monterey County Superintendent of Schools


Jessica Hull

Communications & Public Relations Officer
Phone: 831.784.4245

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