Local elementary schools could organize the training in person this fall if they meet certain criteria, San Luis Obispo County public health officials said Wednesday.
According to the county report, SLO County Superintendent of Schools James Brescia and County Public Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein sent a joint letter to local primary school principals this week informing them of the process of requesting an exemption to allow schools. update this fall.
The county public health department will begin accepting applications for dropouts from schools or school districts on Wednesday, following the state’s updated recommendations, the report said. Exemption applications are expected to be reviewed for at least one week.
“We will continue to prioritize and prepare for the safe learning of primary school students in person, as recommended by the state,”; Brescia said in a press release. “We have also asked the state, under certain conditions, to issue personal instructions to people with special needs.”
In-person tuition is currently prohibited in San Luis Obispo County because the county is on the state’s COVID-19 monitoring list. However, according to the report, the state allows county public health facilities to approve refusals in local elementary schools, sixth and lower grades, to issue personal instructions as long as required by the superintendent, and labor, parent, and community organizations are consulted.
A press release announces that the exemptions will be announced based on the latest scientific data and a review of local case data.
The risk of COVID-19 is lower in young children
Borenstein argued that elementary school students, rather than older students, can return to personal classes because younger students are at lower risk than their high schools and high schools.
“The risks associated with COVID in schools serving primary school children are different from those for staff and pupils in schools serving older students,” said Borenstein. “Children under the age of 12 appear to be at lower risk of transmission between children or adult children, and the risk of infection and serious illness in primary school children is considered low.”
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported that children, including very young children, can develop COVID-19, although their cases are usually much milder than in adults and they often have no symptoms. The CDC is also investigating cases of COVID-19 in pediatric inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C).
The SLO county must be removed from the county monitoring list for at least 14 days before the resumption of more extensive instruction in personal activities, i.e., secondary and high schools.
Strict hygiene protocols must be followed when opening schools
Despite the lower risk to primary school children, rigorous hygiene protocols will need to be followed and maintained in order to perform classes on campuses, Borenstein said. Students and teachers will have to wear masks and be as physically represented as possible, she added.
Some school district leaders from San Luis Coastal Unified and Shandon Joint Unified said they had received enough personal protective equipment and sanitation to spend the fall term. Both districts also said that if they were allowed to opt out of the requirement, they would have to wear clear face shields with a cloth covering the bottom. This allows students to see facial expressions from teachers while maintaining a safe environment.
“We believe (face shields) still provide a high level of safety, allowing students to see verbal expressions, emotional expressions, moving lips,” said Kimberly McGrath, assistant superintendent of the San Luis Coast.
McGrat said students studying English, deaf and with special needs will particularly benefit from face shields.
Brescia said it has already attracted interest from about seven schools in the county, which want to bring primary school pupils to universities this autumn.
If families don’t feel like sending their children to personal classes, Brescia said all school districts will offer forms of distance or self-directed learning. Students living in larger, more populated communities, such as San Luis Obispo or Paso Robles, may be at higher risk than in smaller, more rural areas, he said.
“We want to be able to have students in person to get the absolute best education,” McGrat said. “But I really think it just depends on the family’s circumstances, their level of comfort, and whether they can decide what’s best for their family.”
Teachers who are at higher risk of receiving COVID-19 are cautious
For teachers, the solution is a little different. According to the World Health Organization, adults are at higher risk of developing COVID-19.
To receive confirmation of waiver, the school must obtain approval from the teachers ’union.
“They (teachers) are very eager to see their students, but they want to do it safely and healthily,” said Kristina Benson, superintendent of the Shandon Joint United School District. “Some teachers will only meet the criteria for a distance learning teacher, some will be recruited as a required task – distance learning or in person.”
Benson, McGrath, and Brescia said teachers and districts are still figuring out what personal classes will look like, so it’s too early to tell if teachers will agree to exceptions.
However, in the last few weeks of school council meetings, teachers, teachers ’unions and parents have repeatedly asked school districts to join fully online for the fall semester.
“In reality, there are too many unknowns and it is unacceptable to ask teachers to risk their lives,” Sheri Brown said at a San Luis Coast Board meeting on July 16. During public comments. “Most teachers can’t spend six feet all day. away from all the children they encounter. “
If students or teachers fall ill, schools may be forced to close completely and learn only remotely.
The California Department of Public Health has provided guidelines to schools detailing what to do if a student or staff member develops symptoms. School closures may be appropriate when there are multiple cases in a class or group at school, or when at least 5% of all teachers or students within 14 days are positive about COVID-19, according to the department.
The CDPH also noted that the superintendent should close a school district if 25% or more of the district’s schools are closed due to COVID-19 cases.
With the first day of classes fast approaching, schools are not working to complete their fall semester plans.
“I think most of our boards, staff, administrators and even our families want children to come back, but in the safest possible environment,” Brescia said. “And some students need to be best served personally, and I think people want to help.”