Dear Superintendents and School Leaders,
Safe Schools for All Plan Details
This week, the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence (CCEE) hosted a webinar about California’s Safe Schools for All Plan. The conversation included leaders from the Safe Schools for All team, the California Department of Public Health, and the California Health and Human Services Agency.
- Reopened schools must implement any revisions in the guidance no later than Feb. 1, when their COVID-19 Safety Plan is due to be posted. The Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Prevention Program is also required. CCEE has made available a fillable version of the COVID-19 School Guidance Checklist; access it here. Cal/OSHA’s template can be accessed here.
- If a school obtained an elementary education waiver and has not yet reopened, it is prohibited from reopening until the county’s adjusted case rate is below 25 per 100,000.
- Valencia Branch Laboratory will bill insurance to recover costs for employee testing. If insurers do not cover it, the state will pick up the cost. Testing costs for students without insurance will be billed to Medi-Cal.
- The testing cadences in the guidance are what the state will support through the Valencia Branch Laboratory. The cadences are not required now but will be if the local education agency accepts state grant funding.
- Parents can refuse consent for testing.
- Sample collections can be supervised self-collection at school and at home.
Cohorts and Stable Groups
- In an answer to a question about how much latitude middle and high schools have on group size, no specific number was given. Schools should use structures to limit opportunities for mixing.
- An adult may work with multiple stable groups.
- The 4-foot minimum is required to reduce the density of people in the room. The addition of Plexiglas partitions does not allow for spacing at less than 4 feet.
- Proposed grant funding is based on total average daily attendance as long as an in-person option is available to all interested students. Distance learning must also be available to those who want it.
- A web form will be available for the required reporting. Reports will begin on Jan. 25. All public and private schools will be notified by their county office of education on how to register as a user. Please note that the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) still has not received information from the state on how schools will report. We will share it as soon as we receive it.
Vaccination Impact on Reopening
Questions have arisen as to whether the new guidance allows schools whose employees are fully vaccinated to return to full-time in-person instruction.
Current guidance does not provide alternatives for schools based on the vaccination status of its employees:
- Current vaccines have demonstrated high levels of effectiveness at preventing COVID-19 symptoms, but they have not yet been proven to prevent infection or transmission of COVID-19 in those who are vaccinated.
- There is no vaccine approved for children younger than 16.
We anticipate that schools will be operating with the full set of non-pharmaceutical interventions (wearing a mask, physical distancing, hand washing, and practicing cough and sneeze etiquette) in place for the foreseeable future.
Vaccine Side Effects and Impact on Quarantine
COVID-19 and side effects of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine share some commonalities. Now that some school employees are being vaccinated for COVID-19, they may report to worksites with side effects that can be confused with COVID- 19 symptoms. SDCOE’s consulting physician has offered these recommendations
to avoid unnecessary quarantine.
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