Statement from Alameda County Superintendent of Schools L. Karen Monroe on Alameda County Moving to Red Tier

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Contact: Michelle Smith McDonald, Director of Communications and Public Affairs, [email protected], (510) 670-4163
September 22, 2020 Alameda County moved into the Red Tier Tuesday under the State of California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy. In order for schools to consider re-opening to in-classroom instruction, the county must remain in the Red Tier for two weeks.

The county public health officer has clarified that schools must continue distance learning until such time that local conditions support in-person learning. The Alameda County Public Health Department (ACPHD) has the authority to take a more incremental approach to re-opening in an effort to minimize significant increases in disease transmission, even as the County meets the State’s less restrictive criteria.

ACPHD’s statement Tuesday indicated that it will use the next two weeks (through October 6) to ensure our county metrics remain stable, and will release a phased plan for re-opening that includes schools at that point.

This status change for our county will undoubtedly raise questions and pose challenges for families, school employees and community members. While moving into the Red Tier is a positive development, the re-opening of schools continues to require significant planning and preparation efforts for our schools and districts.

Each of our 18 K-12 districts – as well as Regional Occupational Programs, county-run schools and authorized charters – is responsible for developing and implementing its own re-opening plan, based on requirements laid out by the State and county health officials.

When schools re-open, they will be required to follow the state’s guidance for schools and school based programs, as well as guidance and direction from ACPHD. They must establish and post a comprehensive re-opening plan which must be publically available to students, staff and community.

Re-opening plans will likely include:COVID-19 Testing: Procuring contracts for COVID-19 testing of staff, as recommended in state guidelines.Contact Tracing: Training district staff to support protocols for the tracing of COVID-19 positive cases.Essential Staff: Working with labor partners who serve in roles essential to the reopening of school. This process is critical to ensure school sites have adequate staff, and will likely require much time and attention as the multiple variables are considered and accommodated.As from the onset of this pandemic, this is a fluid situation and information and decision points for school leaders are changing in real time. Schools must open only when the required measures have been appropriately considered and implemented. We encourage districts to communicate with their communities about the challenging realities of this process, and to continue to prepare for the eventuality of bringing students back to classrooms. We also know this pandemic has exacerbated the structural inequities and achievement gaps that cause many students and families to struggle in distance learning, especially our students of highest need, including those with special needs, who we know are best served by in-person learning as soon as it is possible.

Re-opening schools represents yet another significant shift for the staff, students and families who have shown amazing perseverance and resilience in the face of numerous changes and challenges over the past several months. Alameda County Office of Education will continue to assist our schools and districts in following state and local guidelines by ensuring educational leaders, educators, and the community have the support and the most current information available, including our COVID-19 School Guidance for Reopening and other resources for school reopening, which can be found at
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