April 26, 2021
Dear Superintendents and School Leaders,

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

End-of-the-Year Celebrations 
Graduation Ceremonies
The state’s primary guidance document on graduation ceremonies refers to the outdoor seated live events guidance and is modified by an addendum on vaccinated individuals and sections in the Blueprint for a Safer Economy activity and business tiers. The San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) team has created two documents to help with your planning.

SDCOE's Special Projects Coordinator Bob Mueller will provide an overview of these resources from 11 to 11:30 a.m. tomorrow during an extended session immediately following the county’s regularly scheduled K-12 Telebriefing. County Chief Resilience Officer Gary Johnston will also be on hand to help with question about the state’s guidance.

Proms and Dances
The state recently released COVID-19 Industry Guidance: Private Venues and Events, which establishes the requirements and limitations for receptions and events like school dances and other celebrations. The use of face covers (except when eating or drinking), assigned seating, and physical distancing at 6 feet is required in all tiers. Orange tier requirements include the following limits:
  • Outdoor: Attendance must be limited to a maximum of 100. If attendees show proof of negative test or full vaccination, attendance can be as many as 300 people. Attendance limits include all staff and volunteers working at the event.
  • Indoor: Attendance must be limited to a maximum of 150 people. All attendees must show proof of negative test or full vaccination.

Given these limitations, SDCOE has been advised by the county that hosting events like prom is problematic because they invite students, most of whom are unlikely to be vaccinated, into a close-contact social gatherings where maintaining 6 feet of physical distancing is unlikely and difficult to enforce.

Update on Vaccine Efficacy and Testing
The latest data show that getting a shot not only protects vaccinated individuals, it also reduces the chance they can spread the virus to others.

While the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has released new recommendations for fully vaccinated people based on updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention loosening some of the prevention measures required in private settings, Cal/OSHA has not altered its emergency temporary standards. That means the rules for workplace settings are the same for everyone, vaccinated or not.

With transmission rates low and many school employees fully vaccinated, we are receiving many questions on employee testing. AB 86 required local education agencies (LEAs) to either grandfather in the board approved plan they had on March 31 or adopt the testing cadences described in the CDPH’s consolidated school guidance for students and staff.
  • If an LEA chose to go with the CDPH testing cadences, testing students and staff is not required in the orange tier.
  • If an LEA chose to grandfather in its old plan and that plan called for employee testing every other month, that cadence must continue.

One-Time Funding Resources
The California County Superintendents Educational Services Association has developed tools and resources to assist LEAs in the planning and effective use of one-time funding. These tools support an effective use of funds for initiatives and efforts that meet the short- and long-term needs of students, build LEA capacity, and strengthen systems for equity. They encourage LEAs to build on and strengthen existing initiatives, especially those goals and actions identified in the Local Control and Accountability Plan, expand learning opportunities, and leverage resources available through the California System of Support.

State Budget Update
The Department of Finance reported on Friday that the state’s general fund revenues are another $2.3 billion higher for the month of March than the governor’s forecast from his proposed budget. At the time the governor wrote his proposal in January, a lot of folks thought it was a gigantic spending plan with big revenue assumptions; the state is now $16.7 billion ahead of the January estimate.

These strong numbers for March are, in part, attributable to the delayed implementation of the state’s stimulus package. In addition, it is important to note that the delay in the tax filing deadline will likely result in larger payouts for refunds than forecast for April and May.

The non-partisan Legislative Analyst's Office suggested that all the new revenue may likely trigger the Gann Limit, which is essentially a spending limit that requires “excess” revenues be split between tax refunds and education. The state may figure a way around this, but there could be even more in store for schools if they do not.

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.


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