March 5, 2021
Dear Superintendents,

I'm writing with updates on several COVID-19-related items that have arisen since my last message.

Vaccination Update
As I shared on our call, employees assigned to schools and district offices located in the areas whose score on the state's Healthy Places Index (HPI) places them in the first quartile will be eligible to make appointments to be vaccinated against COVID-19 beginning later today. If you have not submitted your district's data to VEBA, please do.

State Tweaks Tier System
Earlier this week, Gov. Newsom announced that the state has added a vaccine equity metric to the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, designed to increase vaccine distribution in areas of the state hardest hit by COVID-19. Under this metric, the state has set the initial goal of providing a minimum of 2 million vaccine doses to the hardest-hit areas of the state. According to the administration, 1.6 million doses have already been provided to these areas and it is expected the state will reach this goal within the next two weeks.

Once the state reaches this initial goal, the blueprint will be updated to allow counties to move through tiers more quickly with modestly higher case rates than previously required. For example, a county is currently required to have 7 cases or fewer per 100,000 people in order to move from the purple tier to the red tier. Under the updated blueprint, a county would now be able to move from the purple tier to the red tier once it has 10 or fewer cases per 100,000 people.

The administration also announced plans to further update the blueprint once it has reached 4 million doses administered in the Vaccine Equity Quartile.

Please review this presentation for details on what these changes mean for San Diego County schools.

Youth and High School Sports Update
All youth and high school sports in California, including those played indoors, will be able to resume when a county reaches an adjusted COVID-19 case rate of 14.0 or lower per 100,000, under terms of a lawsuit settlement announced this week. High-contact outdoor sports such as football and water polo and all indoor sports will be subject to testing.

San Diego County’s case rate this week was 10.8.

While districts and schools should follow this guidance for all extracurricular activities, and should use the tiers to determine which physical education activities they may engage students in, they should use the Jan. 14 consolidated schools guidance to guide all other decisions related to physical education.

Governor Signs Reopening Bill
This morning, Gov. Newsom signed Assembly Bill 86, the bill containing the school reopening package. The bill allows for the expenditure of funds prior to resuming on-campus instruction so schools can more effectively prepare for the return of students; educator vaccination provisions have been expanded from teachers only to include all school staff working with students,; language on the set aside for paraprofessionals has been clarified to reinforce that paraprofessionals would be offering supplemental instruction and support instead of “providing individualized instruction;" and it is now explicit that new requirements will not impact existing agreements in local educational agencies that have already resumed in-person instruction or have plans to do so shortly.

This crosswalk from the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association summarizes the in-person and expanded learning grants associated with the bill.

Awaiting Guidance on Graduations, Other Events
The County of San Diego has advised that the California Department of Public Health is overdue on releasing guidance for private events and conferences. That guidance is expected to capture the scope and scale (and indoors versus outdoors) for large gatherings, and will be important as you are making decisions about graduations and other events for the rest of the year. We will share the guidance as soon as it's available.

Thank you for all you are doing during these unprecedented times. As always, please let me know if you have any questions or need support.

Sincerely,
Paul

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