Jan. 14, 2021
Dear Superintendents and School Leaders,

This morning, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) released updated guidance for schools, COVID-19 and Reopening In-Person Instruction Framework & Public Health Guidance for K-12 Schools in California.

This document is intended to consolidate and update prior state public health guidance and orders related to schools. According to the department, the guidance update reflects evidence that shows that high density classrooms are associated with in-school transmission and outbreaks. In addition, it reflects evidence that stable groups and face masks are associated with decreased symptomatic infection for teachers, students, and family members in all grades.

Schools that Have Already Re-Opened for In-Person Instruction 
Schools that have already reopened for in-person instruction must, by Feb. 1, complete and post a COVID-19 Safety Plan (CSP) to their website homepage to continue operating in-person instruction. It is likely that plans developed prior to the release of this will need to be revised.

Schools that have reopened are not required to close based on the county’s tier placement or case rates. 

Schools that Have Not Reopened
Schools may not reopen for grades 7-12 if the county is in Purple Tier.

Subject to the limitation in the bullet immediately below, schools serving grades K-6 may reopen for in-person instruction in the Purple Tier, including during a State of California Regional Stay at Home Order, if they complete and post a CSP to their website homepage and submit the CSP to their local health officer (LHO) and the State Safe Schools for All Team and there are no identified deficiencies.
  • K-6 schools in counties in Purple Tier with case rate of >25: Schools serving students in grades K-6 may not reopen for in-person instruction in counties with adjusted case rate above 25 cases per 100,000 population per day. They may post and submit a CSP, but they are not permitted to resume in-person instruction until the adjusted case rate has been less than 25 per 100,000 population per day for at least five consecutive days.

These new criteria and related requirements replace the Elementary Education Waiver that allowed LHOs to grant a waiver to school applicants for grades K-6 if specific criteria were satisfied. All waivers approved prior to this date remain valid.

Other Highlights
Among other highlights in the new guidance:
  • Minimum distance requirements: 6 feet between adults, no less than 4 feet between students in classrooms
  • Facial coverings required for all students regardless of age
  • Waiver requests will be approved over seven business days (not five, as before)

  • A mechanism for schools to request technical assistance
  • Information on a hotline for parents and staff
  • New resources on testing vendors and funding opportunities

Overview of the California Safe Schools for All Plan
The California Collaborative for Educational Excellence is hosting a webinar today at 3 p.m. on behalf of the governor's administration that features leaders from the CDPH and the California Health and Human Services Agency. The presentation will provide an update on the California Safe Schools for All Plan to support schools with safe reopening and in-person instruction. Information will be shared about current trends and related state support and guidance. Get details here.

The San Diego County Office of Education team is analyzing the guidance and will update our resources as appropriate based on the new guidance.

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
phone: 858-295-6641