- New CPDH guidance requires face coverings to be worn indoors at all California schools this coming school year. The requirement is a state mandate that districts must follow.
- To protect themselves and the wider community, we are urging all students ages 12 to get vaccinated before school starts this fall. Find out how at https://myturn.ca.gov/.
- All local schools will be fully open for in-person instruction this fall, and independent study programs will be offered remotely for all who choose.
Preparing for a New School Year
Educators throughout the county have greatly enjoyed celebrating our graduating students over the past few weeks. Not only did we applaud the culmination of effort over the years to earn their diploma, we also paid tribute to students’ resilience and determination in the face of one of the most difficult years ever in education.
A new school year is now around the corner, and schools across Santa Cruz County are ready to open classrooms to students full-time.
This week, a key requirement was released by the state that will impact your school this fall. On July 12, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) released new guidance that is more restrictive than CDC’s recommended guidance on the use of face coverings. CDPH is requiring students, staff, and all visitors to wear face coverings while inside school buildings during the 2021-22 school year. Under the guidance, masks are optional while outdoors.
This summer, school districts are providing a range of social, health, and wellness opportunities for students. We know as we emerge from the COVID-19 crisis, new resources will be needed to help students heal and readjust to in-person learning this fall. Some districts are offering summer opportunities to engage and reconnect with their peers, access to expanded mental health services, and continued support for parents to help their children receive the optional COVID-19 vaccine and required immunizations. Our districts and charter schools look forward to opening every school in Santa Cruz County full-time and in-person in the fall.
As we reflect on challenges our school community has faced and overcome throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we are extremely grateful and proud of the way we came together as a community to uplift, support, and protect students and families throughout this crisis. The graduations we celebrated also marked our entry into a new phase of the pandemic. We are thankful for the remarkable countywide collaboration of our school districts, charter schools, community organizations, public health authorities, and school personnel to keep the health and safety of our students, families, and staff top priority. We are grateful to all of our inspiring educators who worked diligently to develop innovative teaching methods for students through remote learning. We are thankful for our school counselors and student support services professionals who supported our student’s wellness in a time of extreme crisis.
We are especially grateful to our COVID-19 and Health teams who have worked tirelessly to keep schools across the county informed of constantly-evolving changes in COVID-19 guidance. Our School Nurses, COE Safety Director, Human Resource Officers, and administrators worked in partnership with Public Health to develop our contact tracing system for schools, provided high-quality professional development to school administrators to ensure schools are safe for our students’ return, and responded to countless inquiries from worried staff and parents. The dedication and compassion of our school community, especially in times of crisis, is truly special and the resilience of our community is something worth celebrating.
Getting vaccinated saves lives
With the more infectious Delta variant spreading, we need to continue ensuring that vaccinating our school community a priority. Vaccination not only protects students and educators, it protects the community as a whole and. There are many false rumors spreading about vaccines, but the truth is COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, and students ages 12 and up are eligible.
Nearly 60% of 12-17 year olds in Santa Cruz County have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. While that’s a great start, we can and must do even better to keep our communities safe before the school year starts next month. So if you or your child are eligible for COVID-19 vaccination and have not yet received it, don’t delay. Now is the time to do your part to save lives and protect your family and community against the spread of COVID-19.
Find out how to get vaccinated: https://myturn.ca.gov/
What to Expect When School Starts
When students get back to the classroom in August, they will see the results of a series of steps we have taken to create a safe environment for students and staff.
Here’s what you can expect:
- All Santa Cruz County schools will be fully open for in-person instruction.
- Masks will be worn indoors by students and staff at all times under CDPH guidance.
- Masks are optional for all while outdoors at school sites.
- For families not yet ready or able to return to classrooms, all schools will offer an independent studies program
- School bus service swill be running in the fall, and masking will be required while on the buses.
Learn more about school safety: https://schools.covid19.ca.gov/pages/parent-page
Investing in Education
- Independent Study: Schools are required to offer independent study in the 2021–22 school year.
- Universal TK: The legislation proposes to expand transitional kindergarten programs beginning with the 2022–23 school year.
- Expanded Learning Opportunities Grant: The bill provides $753.1 million in one-time Proposition 98 funding to establish the Expanded Learning Opportunities Grant Program — offering students access to after school and summer school or intersessional instruction opportunity programs.
- Mental Health Services: Bill offers additional funding for school-based mental health services.
- A–G Completion Improvement Grant Program: The budget provides $547 million to increase the number of students who graduate from high school with A-G eligibility.
- Ethnic studies: The trailer bill details funding to develop and expand ethnic studies course offerings as well as for professional development and resources to support districts.
- Career Technical Education: The bill doubles funding for career technical education programs.
- Community schools: Finding to increase support services
- Broadband: Additional funding to increase internet connectivity and close the digital divide.
- Teacher recruitment, retention and development: The education trailer bill includes a number of teacher recruitment, retention and development items, including:
- School nutrition: Provides two meals free of charge each day for grades TK-12, regardless of a student’s eligibility to pay:
- Special Education: More funding for Special Ed Programs.
- Charter schools: The trailer bill includes details on changes to charter school renewals and the moratorium on new nonclassroom-based charter schools.
Basic Needs: (Rental Assistance, Food resources)
- Please call 211 or text “coronavirus” to 211211
- Available community resources: sccoe.link/community_resources
- Community Action Board (831) 763-2147
- Community Bridges (831) 688-8840
- Live Oak Family Resource Center (831) 476-7284
- Nueva Vista Community Resources (831) 423-5747
Resources for Emotional Wellness
- If you know of a family who may be experiencing domestic violence, or are experiencing violence yourself, please first contact either Walnut Avenue Family and Women’s Center, Monarch Services or the Survivors Healing Center to speak with a certified advocate prior to taking action. Monarch Services Bilingual Crisis Support Line can be reached at 1-888-900-4232, 24 hours a day.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Santa Cruz County: namiscc.org
- Parenting Support Groups through Live Oak Cradle to Career and Pajaro Valley Prevention and Student Assistance
- Available Mental Health and Wellness Resources: sccoe.link/wellness
Non-Emergency Health Care
- Santa Cruz Community Health Centers (831) 427-3500
- Salud para la Gente (831) 728-0222
- Dientes Community Dental Care Santa Cruz: (831) 464-5409, Watsonville: (831) 621-2560
- *For a Medical Emergency, Call 911
Public Health Resources
- Public Health www.santacruzhealth.org/coronavirus
- Santa Cruz County Call Center to answer questions about COVID-19.
(831) 454-4242 between 8:00AM and 6:00PM, Monday-Friday
- Centers for Disease Control website at: https://www.cdc.gov/COVID19.
- Positive Discipline Community Resources (PDCR) is providing bilingual virtual classes and workshops to provide parents and guardians with support and learning about positive discipline. Visit their website at to learn more and register: www.pdcrcc.org
- Essential workers who need childcare should call (831) 466-5820 to find a licensed facility that can provide quality childcare services.
- Parks that are open: Here
- Unemployment Resources: www.edd.ca.gov/about_edd/online_services.htm