Given the sustained high levels of COVID-19 transmission in Tulare County, the following are interim operational considerations to support schools in infection prevention planning and application of state guidance during the evolving pandemic. Tulare County follows California Department of Public Health guidance. Any additional CDPH guidance after this date, particularly if specific or stricter than is stated here, supersedes the following recommendations.
As per current CDPH guidance, all individuals are required to wear a mask when indoors at a K-12 school setting regardless of vaccination status.1, 2 This includes participants and visitors for school-sponsored extracurricular activities, sports, and other on-campus events. For indoor sports specifically: Masks are required for all persons while playing indoor sports unless wearing a mask during play has been determined to pose a choking hazard by a well-recognized health authority, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics.1 Indoor sports previously identified were wrestling, gymnastics, competitive cheer, and water sports. Given concerns with mask sweat saturation and physical contact during intensive play, indoor basketball and volleyball may also be considered for this allowance.
Please be advised California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has released updated COVID-19 prevention guidance for the 2021-2022 school year. A summary of pertinent updates is below.
This guidance comes at a concerning time as we are working to improve vaccination rates and cases are increasing with a more infectious variant that has become dominant in California. For context, the Delta variant is markedly more contagious than the U.K. variant and more than twice as contagious as the original SARS-CoV-2 virus. It is important to note that prior available data and recommendations are based on the less contagious variant(s) likely circulating at the time. It seems most cases so far are occurring among unvaccinated persons. In Tulare County, our vaccination rates remain low. Since children under the age of 12 are not yet eligible for vaccination, they remain especially vulnerable. There is not sufficient data on the transmission of this variant in children.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended universal masking in schools, which aligns with current CDPH and CDC guidance. This strategy allows schools to implement a simplified prevention plan with reduced emphasis on physical distancing and quarantines to reduce disruptions to in-person learning. Schools are also advised to review state testing resources in preparation for the school year.
Complete state guidance: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/K-12- Guidance-2021-22-School-Year.aspx
K-12 testing resources and strategies: https://testing.covid19.ca.gov/school-testing/
American Academy of Pediatrics. COVID-19 Guidance for Safe Schools. July 18, 2021. https://services.aap.org/en/pages/2019-novel-coronavirus-covid-19-infections/clinical-guidance/covid- 19-planning-considerations-return-to-in-person-education-in-schools/
CalOSHA. Emergency Temporary Standards for COVID-19. June 17, 2021. https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/coronavirus/ETS.html
CalOSHA. Emergency Temporary Standards for COVID-19 FAQ. June 18, 2021. https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/coronavirus/Revisions-FAQ.html
CDC. Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools. July 9, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/k-12-guidance.html
CDPH. Guidance for K-12 Schools in California, 2021-22 School Year. July 12, 2021. https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/K-12-Guidance-2021-22-School- Year.aspx
CDPH. K-12 Schools Guidance 2021-22 Questions & Answers. July 29, 2021. https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/Schools-FAQ.aspx
CDPH. K-12 School-Based COVID-19 Testing Strategies for School Year 2021-22. July 12, 2021. https://testing.covid19.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/332/2021/07/School-Testing- Considerations.pdf
CDPH. COVID-19 Testing Task Force: School Testing. July 12, 2021. https://testing.covid19.ca.gov/school-testing/
CDPH. Quarantine Guidance for Fully Vaccinated Persons. May 12, 2021. https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/COVID-19-Public-Health- Recommendations-for-Fully-Vaccinated-People.aspx
CDPH. Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings. July 28, 2021. https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/guidance-for-face-coverings.aspx