Weekly Reopening Update – January 29, 2021

Friday, January 29, 2021

Dear Families,

This week, Governor Gavin Newsom and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) lifted the regional stay-at-home order that had been in place since December citing a decrease in COVID-19 hospitalizations.   With the removal of the regional stay-at-home order, the state reverts to the color tiered system of county-by-county restrictions. Due to our local COVID-19 rates, Orange County currently remains in the most restrictive Purple Tier under the California Blueprint for a Safer Economy. The lifting of the regional stay-at-home order does allow some businesses to resume modified operations, but it does not impact the education sector.  An updated list of businesses allowed to reopen by county can be found here.

As stated in last week’s message, on January 19, the GGUSD Board of Education approved a reopening plan for the district which remains in effect. As elementary school communities reach COVID-19 case rates of 25 (or lower) per 100,000, those schools will reopen beginning February 16. COVID-19 case rate data by zip code is provided by the Orange County Health Care Agency and made available every Tuesday. Click here for this week’s COVID-19 case rates for GGUSD schools.

The February 9th COVID-19 case count data will determine which schools are eligible to resume in-person instruction for TK-2nd grade on February 16 with an option to bring third through sixth grade students back between February 16 and by March 15. Elementary schools will be notified weekly of their COVID-19 case rates and will reopen for in-person instruction once their COVID-19 case rates reach 25 (or lower) per 100,000.

Secondary schools will be reopened when Orange County returns to the Red Tier. For more information on the county’s tier, visit OCHCA’s dashboard.

As we prepare to again reopen schools for in-person instruction, it’s important to understand that the district has implemented comprehensive safety measures on our campuses. The district has reduced the number of students on campus, reconfigured classrooms and campus walk-ways to maximize distancing, installed desk shields and hand sanitizing and hand washing stations, improved our filtration systems to maximize the circulation of outdoor air, and implemented face covering requirements as well as screening and temperature taking procedures. As a reminder when campuses reopen for in-person instruction, all parents will be required to complete the ParentSquare daily health screening form prior to sending their children to school (on the days students attend school in-person). Click here for our tutorial on the ParentSquare health screening form. We remain committed to creating the safest possible environment for our students and staff during the pandemic. 

SAVE THE DATE! All GGUSD parents are invited to attend one of our upcoming Health and Safety Webinars to learn more about school health and safety protocols and procedures. The webinars will be hosted via Zoom on February 9 at 6 p.m. and February 10 at 9 a.m. Parents can register to attend at https://linktr.ee/GGUSD . Click here for the flyer. Attendees who need interpretation in Spanish, Vietnamese, Korean or Arabic should arrive 30 minutes prior to the start for instructions about enabling interpretation on Zoom.  

We understand that parents have many questions regarding county and state reopening guidance, its impact on GGUSD, and the path forward. We have included some frequently asked questions and answers below and will continue to keep you updated as we receive new information or have updates to share.

Thank you for your continued patience, flexibility and partnership!

Frequently Asked Questions

What if our elementary school’s COVID-19 rates don’t fall to 25 per 100,000 by February 9th. When will we reopen? Elementary schools will be able to resume in-person instruction for TK-2nd grade students no later than the month following their COVID-19 rates reaching 25 (or lower) per 100,000.  We are checking these numbers weekly and will provide schools and families at least five working days of advance notice prior to their reopening date. 

My child is in third through sixth grade. How soon can these students return for in-person instruction after the school is allowed to reopen? Schools can either bring third through sixth grade students back immediately once allowed to reopen or in tiers. Families will receive a message from the school principal regarding their reopening schedule.

If COVID-19 numbers spike again after our school reopens, will we be forced to close again?  Schools that are reopening for in-person instruction will only close if mandated to do so by the county or state.

Will my child be required to get a COVID-19 vaccine to attend school? The district does not currently have any plans for requiring vaccinations of students for COVID-19, pending any state or county direction to do so (which there has not been to present). The CDPH and OCHCA dictate which immunizations/vaccinations are required for school attendance and, thus far, they have not indicated that the COVID-19 vaccination will be required for students. Additionally, vaccinations are not yet available for children under age 16.

Are vaccines available for school staff? Nurses, health assistants and a small group of specialized instructional aides have begun receiving the COVID-19 vaccine which is administered by the county and is only available for critical and health care workers, law enforcement working in high-risk settings and adults aged 65 and older. Educators will be eligible in the next round of vaccines, which could begin as early as February. The district is advocating for OCHCA to allow us to use our sites to distribute vaccines to our employees, but currently all vaccine distribution is coordinated through OCHA and the county health care networks.

What is the current status of athletics? GGUSD will soon allow for competition in low contact sports including cross country and tennis. The remaining sports remain in strength and conditioning until Orange County returns to the Red Tier.

Will my child be able to attend school in person, once in-person instruction resumes, if he/she has had COVID-19? Yes. Once in person learning returns to your child’s school site, your child will be able to come to school in person after all isolation and quarantine requirements are fulfilled. Your child may return school at least 10 days from onset of symptoms or date of positive test, be 24 hours fever free without use of fever reducer, and symptoms are resolved.

Why is my child’s school asking for information about my child testing positive for COVID-19? To ensure that state and local public health experts can respond to confirmed cases of COVID-19, the State of California requires school districts to report all known positive cases to the Orange County Health Care Agency (OCHCA). The reporting of these cases helps OCHCA understand the extent of disease transmission in our communities and allows appropriate support with treatment and prevention strategies. The information is confidential and not shared with any other government agency.

Can my child return to campus for Boys and Girls Club, athletics, in-person instruction or other activities if they are not up-to-date on required immunizations or physical exams? No, families must continue to adhere to the state requirements relating to health exams, oral health assessments and immunizations. Click here for the list of requirements by grade. The COVID-19 pandemic has not altered these requirements.