July 12, 2021
Dear Superintendents and School Leaders,

This afternoon, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) released COVID-19 Public Health Guidance for K-12 Schools in California, 2021-22 School Year. This guidance is effective immediately. 

According to CDPH, "The foundational principle of this guidance is that all students must have access to safe and full in-person instruction and to as much instructional time as possible. In California, the surest path to safe and full in-person instruction at the outset of the school year, as well as minimizing missed school days in an ongoing basis, is a strong emphasis on the following: vaccination for all eligible individuals to get COVID-19 rates down throughout the community; universal masking in schools, which enables no minimum physical distancing, allowing all students access to full in-person learning, and more targeted quarantine practices, keeping students in school; and access to a robust COVID-19 testing program as an available additional safety layer. Recent evidence indicates that in-person instruction can occur safely without minimum physical distancing requirements when other mitigation strategies (e.g., masking) are fully implemented. This is consistent with CDC's K-12 Schools Guidance."

The new guidance includes that masks are optional outdoors for all in K-12 school settings. Students in grades K-12 are required to mask indoors, with exemptions per CDPH face mask guidance. Adults in K-12 school settings are required to mask when sharing indoor spaces with students. CDPH will continue to assess conditions on an ongoing basis, and will determine no later than Nov. 1, 2021, whether to update mask requirements or recommendations. 

The guidance also contains recommendations on COVID-19 screening testing, ventilation, quarantine and isolation, hand hygiene, cleaning, and food service.

CDPH will be releasing an updated frequently asked questions webpage that contains detailed questions and answers to support districts and schools. They also plan to release additional guidance on band, youth sports, and other special circumstances. We will share links when those materials are available.

The state also released a document that outlines testing options and approaches for schools to consider implementing with their school communities. It will likely be very helpful for local educational agencies to prepare for the 2021-22 school year by signing up for school-based testing, which can provide maximal flexibility for any pandemic shifts, and can allow for optimized in-person learning time under the K-12 Schools Guidance.

The San Diego County Office of Education Communications team has crafted a template parent message in English and Spanish to help your school community understand what the CDPH's guidance means for them. We will review the guidance and share related resources as appropriate.

As always, please let me know if you have any questions or need additional support.

Sincerely,
Paul

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