April 30, 2021
Dear Superintendents and School Leaders,

I'm writing with updates on several COVID-19-related items that have arisen since my last message, and to share resources to help you recognize school employees.

COVID-19 Decision Tree
The San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) and County of San Diego Health and Human Services, Public Health Services have been collaborating on a COVID-19 decision tree for schools to help guide decisions on self-isolation and quarantine. 

It has recently come to our attention that the following elements in this document may not be consistent with Cal/OSHA’s most recent temporary emergency standards for COVID-19 as they relate to employees:
  • That close contacts who do not develop symptoms may return to work/school after 10 days of quarantine if it can be ensured that the person will physically distance, wear a face cover and self-monitor for symptoms on days 11 through 14.
  • That people with recently acquired immunity (recently recovered from COVID-19 or are fully immunized) can be excluded from the requirement to quarantine following a close contact exposure. 

Subsection (c)(10)(B) of the temporary emergency standards states, “Employers shall exclude employees with COVID-19 exposure from the workplace for 14 days after the last known COVID-19 exposure to a COVID-19 case.”

However, subsection (c)(10)(D) includes the following statement: “If an order to isolate or quarantine an employee is issued by a local or state health official, the employee shall not return to work until the period of isolation or quarantine is completed or the order is lifted. If no period was specified, then the period shall be 10 days from the time the order to isolate was effective, or 14 days from the time the order to quarantine was effective.”

We are working with the county to clarify with Cal/OSHA if the local public health order on quarantine, which the guidance in the decision tree is based on, is sufficient to allow an employer to use the 10-day quarantine option and/or exclude employees with recently acquired immunity from the requirement to quarantine following close contact.

Until we receive clarification from Cal/OSHA, we recommend that school leaders require their employees who are identified as close contacts to quarantine for 14 days from their last exposure to the COVID-19-positive individual during the period that individual is considered to be contagious. The decision tree will also be revised to reflect this information.

State Updates FAQs on Field Trips
The California Department of Public Health has updated the K-12 Schools Reopening Framework and Guidance Q&A to include the following on field trips:

Are field trips allowed under the current K-12 Schools Guidance?
Yes, field trips are allowed, following the current K-12 Schools Guidance safety mitigation approaches (e.g. stable groups, distancing, and bus ventilation and spacing recommendations).

Parent Template Letters Regarding Student Testing 
In March, the State Board of Education voted to give California schools the opportunity to use either state tests or other standards-aligned assessments to gauge student learning this spring. To assist schools in communicating with parents regarding their decision on which assessment they will administer, the California Department of Education created two template letters. SDCOE's Communications team has translated them into Spanish for your use; one letter is for use when administering the CAASPP and another when administering an alternate assessment.

Tools to Help Recognize and Celebrate Employees
May is a big month for recognition days for school employees, so SDCOE's Communications and Graphics teams worked together to create a toolkit with social media posts, email art, and printable cards that you can personalize and use for your district or school. Additional items will be uploaded and linked as they are 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.


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