July 30, 2021

Update on COVID-19 Prevention for 2021-2022 School Year

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.

CDPH update summary:

  • Face coverings are required indoors (including school buses) for all staff, students, and visitors regardless of vaccination status whenever students are present.
    • Medical and temporary pedagogical exemptions are outlined as an alternative when indicated (e.g. face shield with drape attached)
    • Face coverings are optional outdoors
  • Physical distancing is an optional layer of prevention, but there are no longer any physical distancing minimum requirements.
  • Fully vaccinated staff and students do not need to quarantine following an exposure.
  • Offers a testing-out-of-quarantine option for masked, unvaccinated students exposed at school if:
    • The student remains asymptomatic and continue to mask as required
    • The student undergoes at least twice weekly testing during the 10-day quarantine
    • The student continues to quarantine for all extracurricular activities including sports
  • General recommendations as per CDC on ventilation, cleaning, food service, hand hygiene, and staying home when sick and getting tested.
  • As a reminder, regulations regarding prevention including masking, quarantine, and testing for staff remain under CalOSHA Emergency Temporary Standards for COVID-19 prevention updated June 17, 2021.

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/

Supplemental Guidance and Sources:

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