The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) released detailed criteria last week for public, private, independent and parochial schools to apply for a waiver of the state’s distance learning mandate announced on July 17. The waiver, if approved by the local Public Health Officer, will enable schools serving students from transitional kindergarten through sixth grade to provide in-person instruction assuming certain criteria have been met.
“Studies have shown that distance learning is not effective for young students,” said Mary Jane Burke, Marin County Superintendent of Schools. “This opportunity will give our youngest learners, including those beginning school for the first time, the chance to benefit socially and academically in a safe and welcoming environment.”
To apply for the waiver, schools must demonstrate that they have implemented plans to follow the revised Marin County Public Health guidelines for schools, submit the School Site-Specific Protection Plan, consult with stakeholders including parents, school staff, and community organizations, and publish reopening plans on the school website.
“Our ability to reopen schools is closely tied to case rates countywide,” said Dr. Matt Willis, Marin’s Public Health Officer. “This means all of us have a role to play in getting children back into school, where their needs are best served. In the meantime, I hope that parents will remember that mixing children in multiple groups outside of school is riskier than having them together at school.”
“For all children, but especially our youngest students, the academic and social benefits of returning to the classroom while following the Public Health guidelines are critical to their overall development and safety,” Burke added.
CDHP recommends that to be considered for a waiver, a county must first bring its 14-day case rate below 200 per 100,000. As of August 4, Marin County’s rate was 195.56 per 100,000 cases.
Without a waiver, schools must begin the school year with distance learning per the July 15 recommendations from Marin County Public Health and the Governor’s mandate for counties to be off the state’s Monitoring List for at least 14 days.
Waiver applications specific to Marin County will be distributed to school leaders on Friday, August 7 and due 14 days prior to when the school is requesting to reopen. Applications must be initiated by the district superintendent, or equivalent position for a charter or non-public school. Full details of the CDPH Guidance are available onlinewith frequently asked questions.
The CDHP also issued guidance related to youth sports that outlines requirements related to physical distanced outdoor activities that are allowable in the current conditions. Full guidance is available online.