March 26, 2020
Dear Superintendents,

I’m writing with an update on a number of issues that have arisen since my last message.

Collective Bargaining Guidance
One of the many negotiations-related issues that has surfaced during these unprecedented times is the degree to which the “public notice” provisions of the Educational Employment Relations Act apply to recent bargaining demands received from employee associations. The San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) has created a guidance document in collaboration with Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo.

COVID-19 Notifications from Public Health
The San Diego County Epidemiology Unit no longer has the capacity to conduct investigations on every reported positive COVID-19 case. As of tomorrow, March 27, our schools will have been closed for 14 days; any reports of students'/staff members’ positive test results or close contact with a person with a positive test for COVID-19 will have occurred in the community setting (as opposed to at school). Treatment and health care guidance will be handled by the student's or staff member’s health care provider. 

Essential Employee Letter Template
With the governor’s stay at home order in place, employees who are on their way to or from official work may need to provide proof they are deemed essential workers. We have prepared a template letter for use by districts to provide documentation for team members to travel to and from work.

Donation of Personal Protective Equipment
The County of San Diego Emergency Operations Center (EOC) has asked SDCOE to identify and collect for donation any available personal protective equipment (PPE) stored in disaster sheds at school sites and district offices. We are specifically seeking masks, gloves, thermometers, bloodborne pathogen bags, and protective suits.

We would like to keep any PPE located in health offices in place for when we return to school should a nurse have a student present with COVID-19 symptoms. We also would like to keep those items located in individual classrooms’ emergency backpacks in place for future use. 

Please let your district’s director of maintenance and operations know that Mark Cavassa (director of maintenance and operations for SDCOE) will be contacting them in the next day or so to arrange a time to pick up PPE from your district office if you elect to participate in the collection effort. You may also share your inventory proactively by emailing it to moteam@sdcoe.net.

We suggest you inventory and document donated items for reimbursement purposes in the future. The plan is to have the items ready for pick up no later than Thursday, April 2. SDCOE’s Legal department has prepared a brief to address whether it is legal, given the prohibition of gifting or lending public funds, for a school district to donate medical supplies to a hospital during the pandemic.

Graduation/Promotion Requirements
We have gotten many questions from districts about graduation and promotion requirements. We anticipate the state will release guidance soon. In the meantime, we recommend you begin to engage your board in a discussion about giving you the authority to exert maximum flexibility to respond to the emergency conditions for students, including, but not limited to, waiving instructional minutes, setting an end date for classes and grading periods, providing distance learning and credit recovery, and otherwise modifying graduation and promotional requirements. This draft resolution addresses that topic.

Nutrition Services Contact
SDCOE’s Food Service Program Supervisor Jerry Smith is coordinating with district nutrition services directors in order to funnel information into the County EOC, and to facilitate support for district feeding programs. Please be sure your nutrition services leads are working with Jerry, who can be reached directly at jerry.smith@sdcoe.net

Implementing Changes in Governing Board Election Methods 
Many districts are in the process of converting from at-large to trustee-area elections. If your district is going through this process, please review this advisory on implementing changes in governing board election methods.

SDCOE’s COVID-19 Website
We are continuing to build out our COVID-19 website with additional resources and materials to assist administrators, educators, and families during this crisis. In addition to the materials you may already be familiar with like distance learning and parent communication templates, there are also pages dedicated to mental and emotional health for students and families, as well as support resources for families. SDCOE is updating the site daily with additional materials so we encourage you to check the site regularly and share the link with your school community.

I'm looking forward to our next Zoom meeting, Tuesday, March 31, at 1 p.m. Until then, thank you for your continued efforts to support San Diego County’s children during these uncertain times. If you have questions about these materials, please contact Chief of Staff Music Watson at 858-292-3719 or via email . We will continue to share updates and resources as this situation continues.  

Sincerely,
Paul

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