PLEASANT HILL, CA – The Contra Costa, Santa Clara, Alameda, Marin, San Mateo, and San Francisco County Superintendents of Schools in collaboration with the Public Health Officers in their respective counties, urge school administrators, teachers, and parents to work together to plan for full in-person instructional programs in classrooms for all grades in the fall and strongly encourage the continued use of face coverings as a common-sense risk reduction strategy.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Bay Area county schools were united in their efforts to prioritize and maintain the safety and wellness of students, school personnel, and the communities within these counties. They remain united in this effort, and families can feel safe returning to school campuses this fall.
“The challenges faced over the past year has shown the many hardships and inequities faced by the students, families and even staff. Our collaboration with Contra Costa Health Services, allowed us to identify and address many of the safety challenges we faced,” Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools Lynn Mackey said. “We will utilize the lessons learned and ensure that campuses are safe for students and staff when we return to school in the fall.”
Public health researchers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the California Department of Public Health, and local health departments have learned from the research and the experiences of classroom instruction from the fall of 2020 through the spring of 2021. In short, the risk of transmission among children wearing masks is very low, even with reduced spacing between desks.
In the Bay Area and throughout the state, many factors indicate that the risk of classroom transmission has decreased as community case rates have fallen. There are high rates of vaccination among people at increased risk of severe disease, including older adults and those with high risk of medical complications, and the overall community prevalence of COVID-19 is low. Therefore, the Bay Area County Superintendents of Schools are united in their message to urge all schools to plan for the full return to in-person instruction in the fall.
The California Department of Public Health’s reopening framework for schools offers guidelines for limiting the spread of infection and requirements for face covering, basic cleaning, enhanced ventilation, and other measures to facilitate a safe return to in-person instruction. Schools have implemented these practices and brought students and teachers back to campus.
Students, parents, teachers, coaches – and their families – have made considerable sacrifices throughout the pandemic. Thankfully, the conditions now allow schools to offer the full range of learning and support programs that our educational communities typically provide.
The current guidance for schools is based on evidence from the CDC that shows vaccines are extremely effective in protecting vaccinated individuals from infection, severe illness, and death, as well as preventing them from spreading COVID-19 to others. Additionally, increasing vaccination rates helps mitigate the spread of new variants that are more likely to infect those who are unvaccinated. The wearing of face coverings in schools complements vaccinations and helps protect people who cannot yet get vaccinated, people who may not get the full benefit from the vaccine, and people with weakened immune systems. All persons aged 12 and older are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.
“It is exciting that society is opening up and this summer will offer more opportunities to participate in many activities that were not available to us last year,” Superintendent Mackey said. “While we anticipate outings and gatherings with family and friends in the coming weeks, we must continue to be mindful of the health and wellness of ourselves and others and urge everyone we know who is eligible to get vaccinated. These practices will help ensure that the return to full, in-person instruction this fall takes place safely.”
The governor has announced plans to end the tier system on June 15 and fully reopen California’s economy, as long as vaccine supply remains sufficient to meet demand and hospitalization rates are stable and low. COVID-19 vaccines are safe, free and effective, and are now available to everyone aged 12 and up.
Visit https://www.coronavirus.cchealth.org/get-vaccinated to book