This afternoon, Governor Newsom announced new statewide requirements that public and private schools shall be closed to in-person instruction in counties that are on the state’s COVID-19 monitoring list.
A map of county status can be found here.
Schools in these counties must provide distance learning only when beginning the school year and cannot open for in-person instruction until they have been removed from that monitoring list for 14 consecutive days. More detail about the new reopening requirements can be found here.
For LEAs in counties not on the state’s watch list, they retain discretion to begin the school year in accordance with the instructional models laid out in SB 98 (in-person, distance learning, or hybrid).
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has also issued new industry guidance which outlines updated recommendations and requirements for masks, physical distancing, testing, and contract tracing. That new guidance from the CDPH can be found here.
County Monitoring Criteria
The Administration’s guidance for school reopening considers the same criteria used by CDPH in determining county closure, including things like:
- Positivity rates
- Transmission rates
- Hospital Capacity
- ICU capacity
- Ventilator availability
For schools open for in-person instruction, when should schools close?
While recommending a school consult with their public health official first, the new guidance creates a tiered structure for when a classroom, school or district should shut down in-person instruction in the event a student or staff person tests positive for COVID-19:
- A classroom cohort must stop in-person instruction if there is a confirmed case within the cohort
- A school must stop in-person instruction if multiple cohorts within the school have confirmed cases or once more than 5% of the school’s population has tested positive
- A school district must stop in-person instruction if 25% of their schools are closed within a 14-day period
Under the guidance, schools may typically reopen after 14 days and the following have occurred:
- Cleaning and disinfection
- Public health investigation
- Consultation with the local public health department
For districts, a district may typically reopen after 14 days, in consultation with the local health department.
In what will likely be a controversial element, the updated guidance does not require a 6-foot distancing requirement. Instead, the new guidance refers to “maximum distance, as practicable.”
When schools are providing in-person instruction, the Administration is mandating all staff wear masks, with the following requirements for students:
- Grades K-2: strongly encouraged
- Grades 3 – 12: required
Students in grades 3-12 who refuse to wear a mask may be referred to distance learning-only instruction. Prior to today, there was no authority for schools to mandate masks for students. Today’s guidance will allow local policies to do so. According to the Administration, California is the first state to allow for this mandate.
Staff testing and contract tracing
The Governor’s guidance recommends testing for staff every two months, with 50% of staff being tested each month. This is not a requirement and is recommended “as practicable” and based upon testing availability locally (within a 30-minute drive or 60 miles).
- Posted by CCIS
- On July 17, 2020