RICHMOND, Calif. (KRON) – The West Contra Costa Unified School District will be closed for two days due to the rise in COVID-19 cases, according to the superintendent.

Superintendent Dr. Kenneth Chris Hurst sent out a notice that the omicron variant is impacting the district and are seeing more staff absences.

In order to allow more time for the community to recover, the district will have two “smoke days” on Friday, Jan. 7, and Monday, Jan. 10.

The schools will be closed to students and staff on those days. In addition, campuses will undergo a deep cleaning.

“The safety of our students and staff is our top priority, and closing school to prevent further outbreaks is an action we take very seriously and will only do when it is absolutely necessary. I do encourage all of our students and staff to quarantine as much as possible during the smoke days,” Dr. Hurst wrote.

Before returning on Tuesday, Jan. 11, students and staff are advised to get tested.

All district offices, including three testing sites, will be closed on Monday.

Parents are asked to keep their students home from school if they are feeling sick or experiencing symptoms.

The situation will continue to be monitored.

The move comes just hours after KRON4 learned the doors at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School in Richmond are closed, after a COVID-19 outbreak at the school.

According to the Contra Costa County Health Department, the leaders at WCCUSD notified the health department of the decision which was not required by the health department.

According to the statement, the school confirmed 10-cases in several classrooms after the winter break.

KRON4 has learned members of the United Teachers of Richmond, the union representing educators, held a meeting this evening to discuss the issue.

KRON4 has reached out to district leaders, the school board, and the union for comment on the issue but so far we have yet to hear back.

Starting next week, teachers and staff members in the district will also be required to wear KN-95 medical masks while at work.

The new requirement starts on Monday.

The district says this is one of several steps it is taking to keep students and staff safe and has ordered enough masks for each worker to have one mask per week through the end of the year. 

The move comes after the California Department of Public Health recommended avoiding a cloth mask, and instead of using a surgical mask or higher level respirator instead.

The state recommends wearing a surgical mask by itself, or with a cloth mask.