C.C. County’s New COVID-19 Status Impact on School Reopening

Contra Costa County has moved into the Red (Substantial) Tier under the California Blueprint for a Safer Economy, which allows schools to consider reopening after two weeks if certain conditions are met.

If Contra Costa County remains in the Red Tier for 14 consecutive days, schools in the county have the option to return to in-person instruction.  Schools must follow these state guidelines when they reopen or if they have to close again.

“Making progress on the COVID-19 metrics is a positive development,” Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools Lynn Mackey said.  ”However, we also know that each community is being affected by this pandemic in different ways. Schools and school districts have to make the decision on how and when to return students and teachers to physical classrooms based on the situation in their local communities.  Even then, there is still a lot of work to do to ensure that the physical spaces are safe and the proper procedures in place.”

According to the latest data, Contra Costa County has 6.7 new COVID-19 positive cases per day per 100,000 people and a 3.7 percent positivity rate.  The benchmarks for entering the Red Tier are 4 to 7 new COVID-19 cases per day per 100,000 people and 5 % to 8 % positive tests.  The county has been in the Purple (Widespread) Tier, since the state began the Blueprint for a Safer Economy in late August. Schools in the (Purple) Widespread tier aren’t permitted to reopen for in-person instruction, unless they receive a waiver from their local health department for TK-6 grades. Schools can reopen for in-person instruction once their county has been in the Red (Substantial) tier for at least two weeks.

In order to be eligible to move to the next tier, counties must remain in every tier but purple for a minimum of 21 days. Each Tuesday, the state updates each county’s data for the previous week and make corresponding changes to tiers. In order to move into a less restrictive tier, a county must meet that tier’s criteria for two straight weeks.

The Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE) continues to work closely with school districts and the county health to monitor the progress of the pandemic and to ensure the latest guidelines and information are shared with the education community.  In addition, the county office of education has distributed personal protective equipment to schools and districts and held trainings to ensure employees are aware of necessary procedures to maintain student and staff safety.

This summer, CCCOE published the 2020-2021 school reopening document  to help guide school districts, charter schools, private schools, and CCCOE programs as they work through their plans. The guidelines in this document align with recommendations from the California Department of Public Health and have been approved by Contra Costa Health Services. Guidelines are based on the best available  information about COVID-19 in the county at the time of publication and are subject to change.

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