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Coronavirus fears close N.B., OC library systems for rest of March; Coast colleges call off classes this week

Staff members read stories in English and Spanish during Bilingual Storytime at the Donald Dungan Library in Costa Mesa in January. The Dungan Library and all other branches in the OC Public Libraries system are closing for the rest of March in response to the coronavirus.
Staff members read stories in English and Spanish during Bilingual Storytime at the Donald Dungan Library in Costa Mesa in January. The Dungan Library and all other branches in the OC Public Libraries system are closing for the rest of March in response to the coronavirus.
(File Photo)

Beginning Monday, all public libraries in Newport Beach and the OC Public Libraries system will close for the rest of March in an attempt to limit the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, the agencies said.

OC Public Libraries made its announcement Sunday night; Newport Beach on Monday morning.

Newport also said its community centers will be closed for the same period.

The 32-branch countywide network includes the following local libraries:

  • Costa Mesa’s Donald Dungan and Mesa Verde libraries
  • Fountain Valley Library
  • Laguna Beach Library

“In this interim time, although our doors may be closed, there are many ways you can still connect with our library services. OC Public Libraries’ robust digital services give library card holders 24/7 free access to ebooks, audiobooks, magazines, movies, resources and more,” according to a statement.

“We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, and look forward to resuming full library services as soon as we can.”

As of Monday morning, the Huntington Beach Public Library, which like Newport Beach isn’t part of the OC Public Libraries system, had not closed.

Signs outside the Newport Beach Central Library on Monday announce its closure due to the coronavirus outbreak.
(Don Leach / Staff Phiotographer)

Newport’s four library branches already had suspended all events through March, and Huntington’s five branches have done likewise through April 12.

Newport Beach said online library services will continue to be available through newportbeachlibrary.org and that staff will be available by phone at (949) 717-3800.

Coast community colleges call off classes this week

Meanwhile, the Coast Community College District — which includes Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, Golden West College in Huntington Beach and Coastline College in Fountain Valley — said Sunday night that it is calling off all classes, including online, through Friday to give faculty more time to be trained and prepare for a previously announced transition to all online instruction spurred by concerns about the coronavirus.

The exception to the suspension is Coastline College’s eight-week online military contract education program, which will conclude as scheduled, according to an email to district faculty from Chancellor John Weispfenning.

The district had said Wednesday that it would start putting in-person classes online starting this week, joining many other Southern California colleges and universities taking similar actions. The goal was for most in-person classes to be held online following the week-long spring break that begins March 23.

Though all the campuses and facilities are closed to students and the general public, “classified staff and management are asked to report to work to finalize continuity plans and support faculty efforts to move classes online following spring break.” Weispfenning’s email said.

While there have not been any confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Coast Community College District, “these steps are being taken to protect the health and welfare of our students, employees and the community out of an abundance of caution,” he said.

Rob Vardon is city editor of the Daily Pilot. Staff writers Faith E. Pinho and Hillary Davis contributed to this report.

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Updates:

9:47 AM, Mar. 16, 2020: This article was originally published at 8:38 p.m. March 15 and has been updated with new information.


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