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Despite countywide closures, schools are still offering free meals at a variety of locations. Courtesy photo
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Despite countywide school closures, free meals to continue

REGION — San Diego County school districts suspended classes on March 13 amid growing concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, however, schools continue to offer free meals at a variety of locations across North County. 

On March 13, the Carlsbad Unified School District held an emergency Board of Trustees meeting, amending the school calendar, suspending the Brown Act and giving Superintendent Ben Churchill emergency powers.

Carlsbad Unified School District will suspend operations through the week of April 6, while the Vista Unified School District is closed until April 6. CUSD moved up its spring break, which was scheduled for the week of April 13 to April 6 to allow for deep cleaning and sanitization of all rooms on every campus.

“A continuous four-week closure is better,” Churchill said. “We thought long and hard and couldn’t put anyone in jeopardy.”

Additionally, CUSD and the VUSD will continue to offer free lunches to any child 18 or younger. Those children do not have to be students or enrolled in either district. (See list at end of story.)

At least 80 people in San Diego County have tested positive as of Wednesday, according to San Diego County public health officials. The virus has a 14-day incubation period, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Also, the Carlsbad Education Foundation, a nonprofit assisting the district with funding, will provide childcare for about 50 children in grades K-5 starting March 17 at the Agua Hedionda Lagoon Foundation, according to Michelle Guinn, chief executive officer of CEF. She said children will be in groups of 10 and placed in several rooms.

Guinn said at least 50% of families in the district need childcare, while the foundations are putting best practices in place to ensure health and safety.

“We can do childcare based on our rating, which is preventative,” she said of the region’s official level as of March 13. “We will have no more than 10 kids in one room.”

Churchill, meanwhile, said he was on a conference call early on March 13 with the 41 other district superintendents and the San Diego County Office of Education when the superintendents were notified by San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Cindy Marten her district was suspending operations until April.

According to Churchill, Marten had discussed the suspension with the brass of the Los Angeles and San Francisco unified school districts prior to meeting with local officials. He said the announcement caught the other superintendents off guard, but all districts soon followed suit.

As for the educational component, the board approved an optional measure for students. The reason is due to special education, which under state and federal law, requires equal educational opportunities, Churchill and other CUSD officials said during the meeting.

Since many special education students require one-on-one learning in close environments, the board and staff said the decision for an optional learning component was best to protect the health and safety of vulnerable students.

The optional curriculum will include English comprehension, math, science and literacy, to name a few. CUSD is also partnering with Verizon to provide hotspots across the city for families, upon request, to connect to the online curriculum. The service will be up on March 18, according to Assistant Superintendent Rob Nye.

The cleaning efforts are tentatively slated to begin the week of April 6 with deep cleaning of every campus, said Assistant Superintendent Chris Wright said. A team of 60 people will “wipe everything, use ultra-static (cleaning techniques)” and trash removal.

As for Churchill’s powers, the resolution allows him, without board approval, to expend any funds necessary to combat any threats from the virus and also approve no-bid contracts to expedite the process.

Lunch locations around North County include:

Carlsbad Unified

Carlsbad, students can pick up lunch at Jefferson Elementary School from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Encinitas Union

Lunch will be available from 11 a.m. to noon at Ocean Knoll Elementary School, 910 Melba Rd, Encinitas

Escondido Unified

Eight locations will be open for sack lunch and breakfast pick up on weekdays during the closure:

Escondido, Orange Glen, and San Pasqual high schools will be open from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Central, Juniper, and Rock Springs elementary schools, Del Dios Academy, and Mission Middle School will be open from 6 to 8 a.m.

Oceanside Unified

Pick-up from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday at

• Oceanside High School, 1 Pirates Cove Way

• El Camino High School, 400 Rancho Del Oro Drive

• Mission Elementary, 2100 Mission Ave

• Libby Elementary, 423 W. Redondo Drive

• Garrison Elementary, 333 Garrison Street

• San Luis Rey Elementary, 3535 Hacienda Drive

• Stuart Mesa Elementary, 100 Yamanaka Way

San Dieguito Union

Lunch will be available from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

• Earl Warren Middle School, 155 Stevens Ave, Solana Beach

• San Dieguito Academy, 800 Santa Fe Dr, Encinitas

San Marcos Unified

The Child Nutrition Services Department will prepare and provide nutritious meals at all school sites “grab-and-go” style on a daily basis. Meals may be picked up at each school from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Vista Unified

The district’s Child Nutrition Services Department will serve meals 11 a.m. to noon during the weeks of March 16-20 and March 23-27. Meal services will not be provided during the spring break week of March 30-April 3.

• Roosevelt Middle School, 850 Sagewood Drive, Oceanside.

• Vista High School, 1 Panther Way

• Grapevine Elementary, 630 Grapevine Rd.

• Rancho Buena Vista High School, 1601 Longhorn Drive

• Foothill Oak Elementary, 1370 Oak Drive

• Boys and Girls Club of Vista, 410 W California Ave.

For more information, visit individual school district sites; for additional county locations, visit

Poway Unified

Free brown-bag lunches available at all school sites from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Free bagged breakfasts available from 7:30 a.m.-8:30 a.m. at sites that normally serve breakfast.

• Los Penasquitos Elementary School, 14125 Cuca St, San Diego

• Midland Elementary School, 13910 Midland Rd, Poway

• Pomerado Elementary School, 12321 9th St, Poway

• Valley Elementary School, 13000 Bowron Rd #5799, Poway

• Meadowbrook Middle School, 12320 Meadowbrook Lane, Poway

• Mt. Carmel High School, 9550 Carmel Mountain Rd, San Diego

• Poway High School, 15500 Espola Rd, Poway

• Westview High School, 13500 Camino Del Sur (lunches will be distributed in front of the campus. Students picking up meals must provide their pin number for tracking purposes only.