July 31, 2020
Dear Superintendents and School Leaders,

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

Updated Local Public Health Order
County of San Diego Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten made additional updates Thursday to the local public health order. Because the order treats school districts and charter schools as essential businesses, a new section applies to schools:

Each essential business and reopened business shall: 

a. Require all employees/on-site contractors (hereinafter referred to as employees) to have possession of face coverings and wear them as described in section 9 above when in the business facility; and, 

b. Shall conduct temperature screening of all employees and prohibit entry to the workplace of employees with a temperature of 100 degrees or more, employees exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms as described by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or employees who have recently been exposed to a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 (either directly or through a breach of Personal Protective Equipment in the case of healthcare workers/first responders); and 

c. Take all of the following actions if an employer becomes aware that an employee is diagnosed with COVID-19: 

i. Promptly notify the County Department of Public Health that there is an employee diagnosed with COVID-19, together with the name, date of birth, and contact information of the employee. 

ii. Cooperate with the County Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 response team to identify and provide contact information for any persons exposed by the employee at the workplace. 

iii. When three or more cases are identified at the workplace within a span of 14 days, provide notice of the exposure to any employees, customers, or any other persons who may have been exposed to COVID-19 at the workplace. A strong recommendation is made that employers also provide such notice when at least one employee is diagnosed with COVID-19 in the workplace.

Schools Reopening Timeline
We have received many questions regarding the process of the county coming off the state watchlist. There are five metrics the state monitors that can put a county on the watchlist. Right now, the only metric our county is not meeting is that our 14-day case rate must be 100 per 100,000 or less, as measured from date of illness onset with a three-day lag.

Assuming that 14-day case rate remains the only metric keeping the county on the monitoring list, the following would need to occur for all schools in the county to be able to resume in-person instruction. 

  1. To get off the watchlist: Keep the number of positive cases below 3,370 in a 14-day period (average 240 positive cases per day), and
  2. To allow all schools to re-open in-person instruction: Do the same in the next 14-day period. If during this 14-day period the total positive cases are above 3,370, schools will be required to stay in distance learning until a 14-day period is completed with no more than 3,370 cases

If at any point before both 14-day cycles are successfully completed, the county experiences three days where it exceeds one or more of the monitored metrics, it will be placed back on the state monitoring list. At that point, the county would need two complete 14-day periods with metrics below those being monitored to resume in-person instruction.

COVID-19 Testing for Employees
If your district or school is contacted by a provider offering to conduct employee COVID-19 testing, please email Bob Mueller with the name of the company and any details you can share about their proposal. The San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) will work to compile a list of vendors for vetting by local public health.

In-Person Board Meetings
School districts may hold in-person board meetings if in compliance with guidance from the California Department of Public Health and county order; however, the County of San Diego strongly advises against convening in-person public meetings. This memo from SDCOE's general counsel has more detail.

New Resources Added to SDCOE Reopening Guidance
The Contingency Plans and Extra Curricular Programs Guidance for Large Gatherings is a list of factors that should be considered when making decisions regarding extra- and co-curricular activities and events. Links to guidance documents from leading organizations are provided when possible.

SDCOE’s Innovation team has also created lesson plans for primary and secondary grades on handwashing and facial coverings. View them in the Instruction and Learning section of our reopening guidance.

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.

Sincerely,
Paul

Dr. Paul Gothold
San Diego County Superintendent of Schools
phone: 858-292-3514