With Contra Costa Health Services announcing that school districts can have students in k-6 grades return, only 9 of 19 school districts have submitted safety plans. Districts in Antioch, Brentwood, Pittsburg have not yet submitted plans.
County Health spokesperson Karl Fischer confirmed Thursday that K-6 schools can now reopen for in-person instruction in Contra Costa County. Schools that do so are required to submit a safety plan to Contra Costa Health Services. Health Services does not need to approve these plans but can intercede if a plan is insufficient.
These are the districts and schools that have submitted safety plans for which have completed review:
- Canyon ESD
- Lafayette USD
- Moraga SD
- Orinda USD
- Walnut Creek SD
- San Ramon Valley USD
- Christ the King
- St. John the Baptist
Fischer says no plans submitted have been deemed insufficient so far.
Contra Costa County is in the purple tier, however, with a change in the states rules, schools are allowed to reopen for k-6 if the county case rate of 25 cases or fewer per 100,000 residents is held for 5 days.
With San Ramon and Orinda school districts opening, its leaving many wondering why schools in other parts of the county have not yet opened. San Ramon has said just 30% of students have opted to return with 70% opting to continue distance learning.
In speaking with several superintendents in East Contra Costa County, they confirmed they have not yet submitted safety plans because many complex concerns are still preventing them from opening.
These concerns include:
- Goal Posts from the state in terms of requirements keep changing (at publication of this, the CDC and Gov. Newsom are anticipated to release new guidelines sometime Friday)
- Vaccine availability
- Teachers want to be vaccinated
- Labor union negotiations
- Teacher/staff safety such as masks and testing
- Some teachers may not want to return
- Students will still only be in school just 2-3 hours per day
- Airflow/filtration system upgrades
- Shuffling around schools of staff and students
Superintends also highlighted there are major differences between Districts and each have their own set of needs, parent involvement and support. For example, Antioch and Pittsburg have higher rates than most of the county which is impacting their equity index numbers.
Antioch Unified School District
Superintendent Stephanie Anello said Antioch did not submit a reopening plan for the 25/100k case rate. Also like Pittsburg, the case rates in Antioch are, and have been, much higher than the County average. The Health Equity Metric also shows a consistently higher disproportionate rate in Antioch and an average notably higher than other cities in the County.
Brentwood Union School District
Superintendent Dana Eaton said he would love to get students back to school, but there are many variables at play. He pointed to labor negotiations and state rules that keep changing. He also said on Wednesday, the board will hear a presentation by the Brentwood Teachers Association (Page 245)
Eaton also pointed out that even if the board does opt to open the District back up for in-person classroom, it will still be a 2-3 week delay as they need to poll parents and staff on returning, reset teacher/staff schedules, and students might also need to be shuffled around with different teachers.
Mt. Diablo Unified School District
Superintendent Adam Clark explained that the Mt. Diablo Unified School District created a plan and shared it with the Governing Board last night. The plan will come back for final approval at the February 24th Board meeting.
The District is also working through other items that are preventing them from opening at the moment as although Contra Costa County is moving into the Red Tier, there are still cities/communities with high infection rates. Due to these high rates, families, staff and community members have varying comfort levels related to returning to in-person instruction. Daily class schedules, staff assignments and labor agreements all need to be completed.
Clark further highlighted the difference between school district as he noted each District is governed by a different Board. Priorities may be different throughout the county.
Pittsburg Unified School District
Superintendent Janet Schulze explained that they did not submit the reopening plan for the k-6 25/100k cases. The case rates for COVID-19 in Pittsburg have been consistently much higher than the County average this entire time and most of the city of Pittsburg is identified in the State’s Healthy Places Index/COVID-19 Health Equity Metric. Because of the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on the community, the Board confirmed my recommendation that we use the case rates for Pittsburg to inform our reopening status. The majority of the community is supportive of this approach. We continue to prepare our facilities and finalize our plans for when we are ready for a phase-in reopening.
K-6 School Reopenin: Understanding School Reopening (Via Contra Costa Health)
Contra Costa County is currently in the Purple Tier. Schools may not reopen for grades 7-12 while in the Purple Tier. Schools serving grades K-6 may reopen for in-person instruction in the Purple Tier if the adjusted case rate has been less than 25 per 100,000 population per day for at least 5 consecutive days and the school has an approved COVID Safety Plan. Local school officials will decide whether and when to reopen once these criteria are met.