March 10, 2020
Dear Superintendents,

San Diego County public health officials announced last night that the county has its first presumptive positive case of COVID-19. At this time, the individual is quarantined at a local hospital and there is no active threat to the public. State officials also indicated yesterday that with 133 positive cases in the state, they have moved from a policy of containment to one of mitigation. U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said in a recent interview that shifting to a mitigation phase means that communities will see more cases and need to start thinking about whether it makes sense to cancel large gatherings, close schools, and make it more feasible for employees to work from home.

I met yesterday with Governor Gavin Newsom, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, county superintendents of schools, and top advisers from the state Department of Public Health and Office of Emergency Services. They were very clear that at this point, decisions around school closures will be made by school districts in conjunction with local public health.

Pandemic Response Threat Plan Template Now Available
As you know SDCOE has been developing a pandemic response threat plan template for districts that is customizable to help in preparing for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) should it spread in San Diego County.

Based on guidance from national, state, and local health agencies, and developed in consultation with public and school health officials, school safety experts, and administrators from public, private, and charter schools, the SDCOE Pandemic Threat: COVID-19 template
  • Defines roles and responsibilities of key stakeholders
  • Includes triggering criteria for actions to take before, while, and after COVID-19 cases are present
  • Lists goals, objectives, and action steps districts and schools should take in each scenario

Additional support resources will be posted online at in the next several days to assist you in your planning.

We are hosting a workshop on the creation of district and school plans for COVID-19 using SDCOE’s Pandemic Threat template and toolkit on March 16 from 9 to 11 a.m. Due to space limitations, we can only accommodate one representative from each district in-person; participants may also attend online via ZOOM meeting. RVSP for the training here.

Guidance Updates
  • Guidelines for Schools: Criteria for staying home, or being sent home, from school or work continue to evolve based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and public health departments at the State and County. The guidelines are being updated daily to keep our student and staff populations safe and healthy. View the latest version here.
  • Guidance for Cleaning Schools: The SDCOE Risk Management team has curated guidance that can assist in determining which products are compliant with the Healthy Schools Act and may be used to clean in advance of a COVID-19 case in your schools.
  • Mass Gatherings: California Department of Public Health has issued new guidance on mass gatherings with recommendations for counties with and without evidence of community transmission.

This is a fluid situation that continues to evolve. We will share additional information as it becomes available. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you need additional assistance in the meantime.


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