SAN JOSE, CA – Schools throughout California are planning for the imminent reopening of school campuses. The County Superintendents of Santa Clara, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Alameda counties, as well as the City of Berkeley, Friday announced their unified support for full, in-person learning for the 2021-2022 school year.
In accordance with the July 12, 2021, California Department of Public Health’s (CDPH) K-12 school guidance, the superintendents are eager for students and staff to begin their school year in-person with as much instructional time as possible.
The guidance from the CDPH states, “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 decrease COVID-19 transmission rates; 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.”
The County Superintendents, in collaboration with their respective Public Health Officers, are strongly encouraging all who are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccination to be vaccinated as soon as possible, and are educating the community about the requirement of universal masking while indoors on school campuses. “It is important for all students to have access to a safe learning environment, and universal mask-wearing and the COVID-19 vaccine are proven to be the two most effective mitigation strategies in preventing in-school transmission of the coronavirus and its variants,” said Dr. Mary Ann Dewan, Santa Clara County Superintendent of Schools.
A newly released CDPH Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for K-12 Guidance emphasizes the importance and benefits of vaccination to continuity of education. According to the CDPH guidance, fully vaccinated students may remain in school and will avoid interruptions to their education, even if they are exposed to someone with COVID-19, as long as they are asymptomatic.
The American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) recently announced their recommendations and guidance. Both recommend universal masking indoors on school campuses. The AAP guidance states, “Schools must continue to take a multi-pronged, layered approach to protect students, teachers, and staff (ie, vaccination, universal mask use, ventilation, testing, quarantining, and cleaning and disinfecting). Combining these layers of protection will make in-person learning safe and possible.” It has also been noted by both medical organizations that universal masking while on school campuses also has the added health benefit of minimizing the spread of other respiratory diseases and infections.
All persons 12 years of age and older are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. For more information about vaccination events and eligibility in Santa Clara County, please visit sccfreevax.org. Additionally, COVID-19 vaccines are widely available at local pharmacies throughout Bay Area counties.
With variants of the coronavirus spreading throughout the community, individuals are once again being strongly encouraged to practice on-going, COVID-19 testing as fully vaccinated and asymptomatic individuals are still at risk of contracting the coronavirus. Information regarding free COVID-19 testing in Santa Clara County can be found on the county public health department’s website: https://covid19.sccgov.org/covid-19-testing.
Dr. Dewan stated, “We have an obligation to provide a safe and healthy learning environment for all of our students and staff. With variant transmissions on the rise, the best way to maximize in-person learning is to comply with universal masking while indoors on school campuses and for all eligible individuals to get vaccinated immediately.”