June 5, 2020
Dear Superintendents and Charter School Leaders,

The San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) team is reviewing the new guidance from the California Department of Public Health on reopening schools. We anticipate the California Department of Education (CDE) will release additional guidance on Monday; SDCOE will work with local public health officials to understand how Dr. Wilma Wooten, the San Diego County public health officer, will be modifying the public health order in light of the new guidance.

The new guidance (and the forthcoming information from CDE) may lead to questions from your community about reopening. To assist you in communicating about this topic, we have created a template letter in English and Spanish that gives an update.

I will be in touch next week with additional information as well as specific guidance you can use to continue your planning.

In the meantime, I want to bring your attention to some existing guidance that applies to schools.
We are all familiar with the local requirement that anyone 2 years or older is required to wear a face covering whenever they are in a business or within six feet of another person who is not a member of their family or household. However, there are some additional requirements with which we should be complying:

Temperature Checks and Symptom Screening
Cal/OSHA’s guidance requires temperature checks and symptom screening for employees reporting to work.

Safe Reopening Plans
According to the local health order, all reopened businesses, with the exception of restaurants providing dine-in services, must prepare and post a safe reopening plan for each of their facilities in the county. If the measures identified and implemented are not effective in maintaining proper social distancing and sanitation, the business shall promptly modify its plan to ensure proper social distancing and sanitation.

Any business that fails to comply with its safe reopening plan shall immediately close.
Counsel for the County of San Diego has advised SDCOE that when the term “business” is used in the public health order, it includes all local governments and school districts.

For our office environments, the measures included in the COVID-19 Industry Guidance: Office Workspaces must be included in our plans. So even though the county public health order allows symptom screening to be used when a thermometer is not available, we must include temperature checks and symptom screening in our safe reopening plans, and we should be doing both now.

Social Distancing and Sanitation Protocol
As we have shared before, all essential businesses that allow members of the public to enter a facility must prepare and post a social distancing and sanitation protocol form. The form must be posted at or near the entrance of the relevant facility and shall be easily viewable by the public and employees. A copy of the form must also be provided to each employee performing work at the facility.

As with the safe reopening plan, if the measures identified and implemented aren’t effective, we’re required to promptly modify the protocol or close if we can’t successfully implement.

To the extent to which you have parents or community members coming to your site(s) to conduct business, you should be complying with this requirement.

Child Care Center Rules
The local public health order also contains requirements for the safe operation of daycare and child care centers. For more information on these requirements, view SDCOE’s Emergency Child Care Toolkit.

Messaging
Now more than ever, it is important that we be united in our messaging. I will continue to stress:

  • Once schools are permitted to reopen, it will take time and significant modifications for schools to be ready to begin working with students on campus.
  • Reopening schools will require a great deal of planning and preparation, and many expenses that would not have been needed before the pandemic. 
  • School leaders are anxious to reopen schools, but we must do it in a safe way so we can accelerate learning, promote instructional continuity, and address social-emotional and mental health needs.

Thank you for all you are doing to support our region’s children. I will be in touch with additional information soon. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to contact me if we can be of further assistance.

Sincerely,
Paul

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