July 9, 2021
Dear Superintendents and School Leaders,

This morning, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released updated guidance for COVID-19 prevention in K-12 schools. The CDC's recommendations have been adjusted to align with guidance for fully vaccinated people and with current mask guidance.

The CDC lists the following as key takeaways:
  • Students benefit from in-person learning, and safely returning to in-person instruction in the fall 2021 is a priority.
  • Vaccination is currently the leading public health prevention strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic. Promoting vaccination can help schools safely return to in-person learning as well as extracurricular activities and sports.
  • Masks should be worn indoors by all individuals (age 2 and older) who are not fully vaccinated. Consistent and correct mask use by people who are not fully vaccinated is especially important indoors and in crowded settings, when physical distancing cannot be maintained.
  • CDC recommends schools maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance between students within classrooms, combined with indoor mask wearing by people who are not fully vaccinated, to reduce transmission risk. When it is not possible to maintain a physical distance of at least 3 feet, such as when schools cannot fully re-open while maintaining these distances, it is especially important to layer multiple other prevention strategies, such as indoor masking.
  • Screening testing, ventilation, handwashing and respiratory etiquette, staying home when sick and getting tested, contact tracing in combination with quarantine and isolation, and cleaning and disinfection are also important layers of prevention to keep schools safe.
  • Students, teachers, and staff should stay home when they have signs of any infectious illness and be referred to their healthcare provider for testing and care.
  • Many schools serve children under the age of 12 who are not eligible for vaccination at this time. Therefore, this guidance emphasizes implementing layered prevention strategies (e.g., using multiple prevention strategies together consistently) to protect people who are not fully vaccinated, including students, teachers, staff, and other members of their households.
  • COVID-19 prevention strategies remain critical to protect people, including students, teachers, and staff, who are not fully vaccinated, especially in areas of moderate-to-high community transmission levels.
  • Localities should monitor community transmission, vaccination coverage, screening testing, and occurrence of outbreaks to guide decisions on the level of layered prevention strategies (e.g., physical distancing, screening testing).

As a reminder, CDC’s guidance is not binding for California schools, which must abide by requirements from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and county public health. State officials have indicated that they will review and align CDPH guidance with the CDC’s. We will alert you when the California guidance is issued.

The San Diego County Office of Education Communications team is crafting a template parent message in English and Spanish to help your school community understand what the CDC's guidance means for them. It will be available later this morning in the "Parent and Employee Communication Materials" section on our COVID-19 website.

As always, please let me know if you have any questions or need additional support.


Dr. Paul Gothold
San Diego County Superintendent of Schools
phone: 858-295-6641