December 14, 2020
|Dear OUSD Community:
We recently shared our plan to reopen schools for in-person instruction with January 25, 2021 as our target starting date. Unfortunately, COVID transmission and cases in our county continue to worsen. Before we break for the winter holiday, I wanted to let you know that we will not begin our phased-in approach to reopening schools to in-person instruction on January 25 as originally proposed.
Setting a date was requiredOne of the state requirements for submitting a reopening plan is setting a target reopening date. As noted above, we shared January 25, 2021. Any date, of course, depends on COVID transmission rates declining in our county and stakeholder engagement.
We will continue to plan because we have a duty to be as prepared as possible to resume in-person learning when the conditions are safe and in alignment with our public health guidance.
What changedOur plan is to reopen schools in phases beginning when our county is in the Orange tier of our state’s color-coded COVID tracking system. Given the recent surge of COVID transmission, Alameda County and most of California being in the most restrictive Purple tier, and the coming holidays, it is highly unlikely that we will move into the Orange tier in time for the original proposed date.
The state’s system requires that a county remains in a tier for at least three weeks prior to advancing to a less restrictive tier. As it stands, we would have to enter the Red tier on January 4 with steadily declining transmission rates that would allow us to enter the Orange tier in another three weeks, in order to reopen schools on January 25.
When will schools reopen?After the holidays, we should be better able to gauge a more accurate projection for starting school. I’ll be real here. We can choose a date, but it will not have the certainty we all want. A more realistic approach is to closely monitor how our county is progressing with COVID and how our numbers look. I wish we could offer a better and more solid date upon which we could rely, but that is not the nature of this pandemic.
It is important to note that under the Purple tier, while school districts can’t open facilities to new activities, anything that was already open before the county went into Purple tier can remain open. In OUSD, that applies to our learning hubs for Special Education and other small cohorts who need additional support, which are currently open.
We all need to do our part this holiday seasonAs a community, we are heading into a season when we traditionally gather to celebrate with family and friends, often traveling to see each other. Like my counterparts in the public health department, I am urging us all to follow the latest Bay Area Regional Stay Home order.The Stay At Home OrderIssued on December 6, 2020Gathering with people from outside your household is prohibitedTravel outside the Bay Area is not recommendedFor people who choose to travel, you should quarantine and get tested for COVID 3-7 days after returningThose who travel should review the Guidance for Returning Holiday TravelersPlease stay safe by staying home as much as possible and wearing masks.
We all have so much at stake here.
Staying apart and exercising all proper precautions this year will make it more likely that we will be able to gather with all of our loved ones next year for the holidays. And of course, the sooner we get the pandemic under control, the sooner we can reopen our schools to the full in-person instruction that we all want for our students. The health of our friends, family, and community depends on all of us doing everything we can to stop the worst effects of this pandemic.
In Community, Dr. Kyla Johnson-Trammell
What do you think?