April 9, 2021
Dear Superintendents and School Leaders,

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

State Updates Blueprint for a Safer Economy
The state has updated the Blueprint for a Safer Economy to clarify that “Unless there are extenuating circumstances, such as low rate of vaccine take up, a county will only move to a more restrictive tier if hospitalizations are increasing significantly among vulnerable individuals, especially among vaccinated individuals, and both test positivity and adjusted case rates show a concerning increase in transmission.”

There are no specific thresholds described for:
  • Low rate of vaccine take up
  • The rate of increase in hospitalizations for vulnerable individuals or among vaccinated individuals
  • What would be considered a concerning increase in transmission based on test positivity and adjusted case rates

If the county does move back to the red tier, there are a handful of potential impacts for schools:
  • The capacity of the venue that will be used for graduation would be limited to 20% of normal capacity. (Orange tier guidelines allow for 33%, or 67% of capacity with all guests showing proof of a negative test result within 72 hours or that they are fully vaccinated.) View graduation guidance.
  • Public schools that did not grandfather in a board-approved testing plan by March 31 would need to resume asymptomatic testing of students and staff as described in the consolidated guidance. Because this is a requirement associated with funding from AB 86, this does apply to private schools. View the associated Education Code section.
  • Schools operating youth sports programs would need to resume testing of athletes and staff for sports that are not authorized for play in the red tier. View youth sports guidance.

State Moving to Eliminate Some Testing Costs
Our partners at the County of San Diego tell us that the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is taking steps to eliminate some of the costs associated with school-based antigen testing, which provides easily readable results within 15 minutes. There are three costs for school-based antigen testing programs of asymptomatic individuals (aka surveillance testing):
  • Test kits: CDPH is providing BinaxNOW rapid antigen test kits to public schools for free.
  • Administration software (used to register students and staff, document consent, provide notification on results, and to report required demographic information to the county and state): The CDPH is in the process of finalizing a statewide contract with Primary Bio for all public schools in the state, free of charge.
  • Labor: Providing the personnel to implement testing will be the sole remaining cost for schools.

If you’re interested in learning more about antigen testing, please email COVID-Education@sdcounty.ca.gov.

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