Nov. 10, 2020
Dear Superintendents and School Leaders,

Thank you so much for submitting your data on school reopening. I am pleased to report that the dashboard showing county-, district-, and school-level data is now available at

As you know, under the public health order, schools are required to report the number of students participating in full-time in-person learning, hybrid learning, and distance learning; number of school employees who work onsite at a school; and the name, email address, mailing address, and phone number of the person responsible for responding to complaints regarding COVID-19 prevention.

This information must be reported to the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) on or before the second and fourth Monday of each month. SDCOE will email a reminder to you and the district and school site contacts listed in your initial responses several days before the next reporting date.

If you believe the data for your school or district is incorrect, or if you have questions, please email

San Diego County Enters the Purple Tier
The state announced today that the County of San Diego has entered the most restrictive purple tier on the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy.

This designation means schools that have not started teaching at least some students in person cannot reopen. According to the Schools FAQ from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH):

My county was once eligible for school reopening (i.e., red tier for 14+ days), but has since become ineligible (i.e., reverted back to purple tier). Is my school permitted to reopen for in-person instruction?
No. On July 17, CDPH published the school reopening framework, which provided that a school may reopen for in-person instruction only if its county has been off the County Monitoring List for 14 days. Since then, the framework has been adapted to reflect the Blueprint for a Safer Economy, providing that a county must be in Red Tier (equivalent of being off the County Monitoring List) for 14 days for schools in that county to be eligible to reopen for in-person instruction. Schools must have actually reopened for in-person instruction while the county was in the Red Tier in order to remain open if the county moves back to Purple Tier. If the county is in purple tier on the day the school plans to reopen for in-person instruction, the school must wait until it is eligible again (i.e., county in red tier for 14+ days).

If a school was implementing a phased re-opening (e.g., only opened grades 9-10 for in-person instruction with set plans to phase in grades 11 and 12) while the county was in the Red Tier, the school site may continue their phase re-opening when the county reverts back to the Purple Tier, if authorized by Local Health Officer. This is only applicable to individual school sites. If a district has a phased reopening of their schools, the schools in that district that did not open for in person instruction may not re-open until the county is back in the Red Tier for 2 weeks.

What does it mean for a school to be “open” under the school reopening framework? 
The school reopening framework set the rules for when “[s]chools and school districts may reopen for in-person instruction.” The term “open” or “reopen,” as used in the framework, refers to operations that are permitted only if the county satisfies the eligibility requirements for schools to “open” or “reopen” (i.e., red tier for 14+ days). This is in contrast to activities permitted under the Cohorting Guidance even for schools that are not permitted to reopen under the July 17 school reopening framework. Schools that were operating only in the manner permitted under the Cohorting Guidance are therefore not “open” under the July 17 framework. For example, a school serving 10 students for in-person instruction under the cohorting guidance is not “open” for in-person instruction, since such operations are permitted regardless of the school reopening framework.

If my county is in purple tier, what can my school do to serve students in-person?
Regardless of a county’s tier status, schools may serve small groups of students pursuant to the CDPH cohorting guidance (e.g., serve small groups of students with disabilities) and/or open elementary schools pursuant to a waiver.

In order to support our districts and schools, SDCOE has asked local public health for answers to a number of additional questions, including:
  • If a school that has reopened while the county was in the red tier and shifts to distance learning on a temporary basis due to cases on campus, can it resume in-person instruction if the county is now in the purple tier?
  • In their FAQ, the CDPH indicates that schools that have begun a phased reopening can continue in phases “if authorized by the local health officer.” How can a school obtain this authorization?

We will share the county’s responses when we receive them.

In the meantime, the SDCOE Communications team has prepared a template letter in English and Spanish for use in communicating with your school community about moving into the purple tier and what it means for schools.

Thank you for all you are doing during these unprecedented times. Please don't hesitate to get in touch if I can be of assistance.


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