Sept. 2, 2020
Dear Superintendents and School Leaders,

I’m writing with updates on several COVID-19-related items that have come up since my last message.

Cohort Guidance and School Campus Reopening
There appears to be a fair amount of confusion among school leaders related to the Guidance for Small Cohorts/Groups of Children and Youth released on Aug. 25 and related FAQ. Dr. Wooten has clarified that the guidance is not binding for schools or school-based programs in San Diego County, which have now been cleared to reopen campuses for in-person learning providing they are following the industry guidance for K-12 Schools and local public health order.

COVID-19 Training Video for Principals
SDCOE’s Decision Tree and Decision Guide for COVID-19 Symptoms and Exposures walk a school administrator or nurse through what to do in the event of a symptomatic student, staff member, or visitor on campus; a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 on campus; and having someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 on campus. The decision guide also includes communication templates, guidelines on when students/staff members may return to work, and guidance on follow up/tracking of symptomatic and COVID-19 positive/presumptive positive cases.

We have created a training video to assist administrators in understanding the decision guide and how it can be used effectively. Please share this resource with your principals and school nurses.

Template Letter for Close Contacts
We have added a new template letter in English and Spanish to SDCOE’s COVID-19 communications resources. This letter is for parents and guardians whose children have been identified as a close contact by an individual who tested positive or is presumed positive for COVID-19.

Updated PPE Guidance
SDCOE has updated our recommendations on the use and distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE). To facilitate your review, changes within the document are highlighted yellow. Significant changes include:
  • The recommendation, based on feedback from our medical consultant and public health department, that face covers be worn at all times while indoors (with limited exceptions) to reduce the risk of aerosol transmission
  • Clarification that while gloves do not prevent the transmission of COVID-19, they do protect the wearer from damaging the skin on their hands when their work requires very frequent handwashing and/or use of hand sanitizer
  • Clarification that using a face shield in combination with a face cover is intended as additional protection during brief interactions where physical distancing cannot be maintained
  • Important information on the use and dangers associated with N95 respirators

Guidance on Use of Respirators
Many schools are planning to supply N95 respirators to employees who come into contact with positive or presumed positive individuals. Cal/OSHA has strict requirements for the safe use of respirators. This guide lays out the requirements, which include having a written respiratory program and a designated program administrator, obtaining medical clearance for each employee who will use a respirator, and more.

Immunization Materials and Resources
As students prepare to return to school, it’s important to remember that all immunizations must be current in order for a child to attend classes, whether it’s in-person or virtually via distance learning. SDCOE and the County of San Diego have partnered to create and curate the following resources to support schools in communicating about immunization requirements:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also released a communications toolkit with messaging and resources about the 2020-21 flu season.

Thank you for all you are doing during these unprecedented times. Please don't hesitate to get in touch if I can be of assistance.


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