March 25, 2021
Dear Superintendents and School Leaders,

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

Physical Distancing Guideline Changes Do Not Impact Quarantine Rules
As you know, last week, the California Department of Public Health updated the COVID-19 and Reopening In-Person Instruction Framework & Public Health Guidance for K-12 Schools in California to strongly recommend distancing of at least 3 feet for students in classrooms. We have received some questions about the impact of this change on rules for quarantining classes in the event of a positive case.

In its section on what to do if there is a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 in a school, the consolidated school framework includes two notes that sum up the key issues on whether or not an entire class must be quarantined:

(†) A contact is defined as a person who is within 6 feet from a case for more than 15 minutes cumulative within a 24-hour period, regardless of face coverings. In some school situations, it may be difficult to determine whether individuals have met this criterion and an entire stable group, classroom, or other group may need to be considered exposed, particularly if people have spent time together indoors.

(††) See Stable Group Guidance for definition of a stable group. In some situations (e.g., when seating charts are used, face covering is well adhered to, and teachers or staff have observed students adequately throughout the day), contact tracing and investigation may be able to determine more precisely whether each stable group member has been exposed. In this situation, those who were not close contacts could continue with in-person instruction.

In the event of a positive case, principals should consult with local public health on contacting tracing in order to determine next steps.

Safe Schools for All Update
On March 22, Dr. Naomi Bardach, leader of the state’s Safe Schools for All Team, gave an update to local health officers. The County of San Diego has given the San Diego County Office of Education permission to share the PowerPoint deck, which covers changes to guidance on physical distancing, reopening criteria, and cohort guidance. The presentation also offers some insight into what the state is considering as the pandemic continues.

Resources to Empower Latinos in the Fight Against COVID-19
This week, the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund, in partnership with Kaiser Permanente, launched the Juntos Podemos campaign to empower Latinos in the fight against COVID-19. The three-pillar campaign seeks to promote public health recommendations to stop the spread of the virus, encourage and inform community members about the safety and effectiveness of vaccination, and fight back against misinformation. The Juntos Podemos websites in English and Spanish include tools and resources that may be helpful in communicating with your community. The campaign also includes a social media toolkit.

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.

Sincerely,
Paul

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