Reopening Santa Clara County schools this fall not guaranteed, officials say

Santa Clara County schools may not reopen for in-person instruction this fall, officials said Tuesday.

In an afternoon press conference, Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said that the county wants “all students and teachers to return to school as soon as possible” but that officials have yet to decide whether — or how much — that involves the classroom.

“Whether schools can reopen for in-person instruction depends on the containment of COVID-19 in the months to come … We’re monitoring a number of factors,” Cody said.

Bay Area schools began closing down when the pandemic struck in mid-March. Just a few weeks later, the six counties said they’d follow the state’s recommendation to remain shut for the rest of the year — leaving teachers, students and parents scrambling to adjust to online learning.

State guidance released earlier this month calls for schools to offer in-person learning to the extent that they can this fall, depending on local orders. By and large, that means a piecemeal approach for districts including across the Bay Area.

For its part, Santa Clara County has called on local districts to consider various scenarios for the year, including in-person instruction, remote learning or a hybrid model. But officials didn’t directly answer when districts or parents should expect more information about a potential first day of school: Such plans are “not a guarantee that conditions will allow us to reopen in person,” said Mary Ann Dewan, county superintendent.

If brick-and-mortar schools do welcome students this fall, the county expects different age groups to abide by different rules, according to new guidance.

Elementary school students, for example, would be taught in stable groups, while high schoolers would be required to wear face coverings all the time and follow more stringent social distancing guidelines. Temperature checks would not be required.

“The health and safety of students and staff and community remain top of mind,” Dewan said. “Schools will need to adhere to the requirements and study the guidance.”

Similar protocols have been developed in San Mateo County, where school and health officials tentatively plan to stagger students, mandate face coverings and limiting the number of students within classroooms. The Oakland Unified School District is meanwhile considering both entirely remote and hybrid models, with a decision slated for no later than July 10.

Decisions surrounding high school sports in Santa Clara County are forthcoming, Cody said.

Check back for updates to this developing story.

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Source:: The Mercury News – Health


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