Prior Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates

Updated: Sept. 10, 2020

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Date: August 17, 2020 

To: Families of Santa Cruz County

Re: Santa Cruz County has been Removed From the State Monitoring List

Dear Families of Santa Cruz County,

Today we learned that on August 17th Santa Cruz County was removed from the California County COVID-19 Monitoring List. If Santa Cruz County is able to remain off the monitoring list for 14 consecutive days, there is a possibility we could consider plans to transition to in-person instruction per California Department of Public Health (CDPH) guidance. However, there are a number of questions and barriers remain at this time before Santa Cruz County Schools could safely and effectively re-open. 

Once our county is able to remain off the County Monitoring List for 14 consecutive days, the decision to reopen schools must take into account a variety of local factors, including the capacity to respond appropriately to a potential outbreak. CDPH recommends that once in-person instruction resumes “surveillance testing is implemented based on the local disease trends” and that we maintain the capacity to test, at minimum, 25% of school staff every two weeks. Santa Cruz County does not currently have enough testing capacity to meet this requirement, nor adequate contact tracing. We are actively working with County Public Health to increase our county’s ability to secure adequate surveillance testing for the school community and offer training to help increase local contact tracing capacity.

It is crucial the decision to re-open schools in our county be done carefully and that we avoid any hasty actions that could cause a surge in COVID-19 cases in our community. In addition, it is possible that we could become flagged on the County Monitoring List once again and be required to close schools once more. This “on again, off again” effect can be destabilizing, confusing and traumatic for students, as well as challenging for teachers and school staff to implement.  We will continue to review the local public health conditions, work with County Public Health, our local school boards, and school stakeholders to determine the best course of action. Santa Cruz County School Superintendents are committed to ensuring that schools only open when our local Public Health authorities announce that our county and school community have the resources to reopen safely and minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission in our community. 

Additional Information

For the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic, visit the Centers for Disease Control website at: https://www.cdc.gov/COVID19. In addition, you can also call 211 or text “coronavirus” to 211211. The Santa Cruz County Office of Education continues to update its web page and resources at www.sccoe.link/coronavirus.

Yours in health and equity,

Laurie Bruton, Superintendent, San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District

Lorie Chamberland, Superintendent, Live Oak School District

Eric Gross, Superintendent, Pacific Elementary School District

Mike Heffner, Superintendent, Bonny Doon Union Elementary School District

Tanya Krause, Superintendent, Scotts Valley Unified School District

Michelle McKinny, Superintendent, Happy Valley Elementary School District

Diane Morgenstern, Superintendent, Mountain Elementary School District

Kris Munro, Superintendent, Santa Cruz City Schools

Michelle Rodriguez, Superintendent, Pajaro Valley Unified School District 

Faris Sabbah, County Superintendent of Schools 

Scott Turnbull, Superintendent, Soquel Union Elementary School District

Updated: July 27, 2020 at 4:37 p.m.

Date: July 27, 2020 

To: Families of Santa Cruz County

Re: Elementary School Waivers for In-Person Instruction 

Dear Families of Santa Cruz County,

Governor Newsom and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) included a footnote within the new guidance set forth for schools earlier this month to allow both public and private elementary schools to submit a waiver that once approved would allow schools within counties who are flagged on the state’s County Monitoring List to offer in-person instruction provided they can meet all required social distancing and sanitation requirements. While the waiver application process is being developed, waiver applications will not be available until our county’s testing capacity is robust enough to respond to confirmed COVID-19 cases if they arise in schools that have reopened with a waiver.

The footnote from the new CDPH guidance regarding waivers reads as follows: 

“A waiver of this criteria may be granted by the local health officer for elementary schools to open for in-person instruction. A waiver may only be granted if one is requested by the superintendent (or equivalent for charter or private schools), in consultation with labor, parent and community organizations. Local health officers must review local community epidemiological data, consider other public health interventions, and consult with CDPH when considering a waiver request.”

The new CDPH guidance also states: 

“Once schools are reopened to at least some in-person instruction, it is recommended that surveillance testing be implemented based on the local disease trends. If epidemiological data indicates concern for increasing community transmission, schools should increase testing of staff to detect potential cases as lab testing capacity allows. School staff are essential workers, and staff includes teachers, paraprofessionals, cafeteria workers, janitors, bus drivers, or any other school employee that may have contact with students or other staff. School districts and schools shall test staff periodically, as testing capacity permits and as practicable.”

For school sites that wish to offer in-person instruction, robust COVID-19 testing for the educational community will be a crucial element in avoiding a resurgence of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the county, along with other measures such as contact tracing, completion of thorough safety training for school personnel, and the implementation of safety protocols at school sites. Through funding provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the County is working to significantly expand local testing capacity in partnership with UCSC and local health care providers. However, it is anticipated that it will take some time for Santa Cruz County to develop the necessary systems to move forward with opening the waiver process for review. The local Public Health Officer must approve any school-specific waiver application prior to submission to the state for final approval.

Santa Cruz County Schools and our local public health authorities are committed to working together to oversee the elementary waiver process to ensure that our educational community remains safe. Our educational community is grateful for and depends on our partnership with our local Public Health authorities to ensure the safety of our students, families, and staff by minimizing the risk of COVID-19 transmission at school sites while maximizing learning opportunities for students. We will continue to work to ensure that all students in Santa Cruz County are safe. 

Yours in health and equity,

Laurie Bruton, Superintendent, San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District

Lorie Chamberland, Superintendent, Live Oak School District

Eric Gross, Superintendent, Pacific Elementary School District

Mike Heffner, Superintendent, Bonny Doon Union Elementary School District

Tanya Krause, Superintendent, Scotts Valley Unified School District

Michelle McKinny, Superintendent, Happy Valley Elementary School District

Diane Morgenstern, Superintendent, Mountain Elementary School District

Kris Munro, Superintendent, Santa Cruz City Schools

Michelle Rodriguez, Superintendent, Pajaro Valley Unified School District 

Faris Sabbah, County Superintendent of Schools 

Scott Turnbull, Superintendent, Soquel Union Elementary School District

Updated: July, 2020 at 4:16 p.m

Date: July 20, 2020 

To: Families of Santa Cruz County

Re: Distance Learning Only for K-12 Schools for 2020-2021 School Year, County Guidance

Dear Families of Santa Cruz County,

Due to the continued upward trend of confirmed COVID-19 cases in California, Governor Newsom set forth a new mandate for California K-12 schools last week that provides long awaited clarity to educators and parents as we look to the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year. Newsom’s order mandates all counties who qualify for the California Department of Public Health COVID-19 Monitoring List to continue with distance learning only until they are able to remain off this list for 14 consecutive days. The CDPH monitoring list criteria is determined by elevated levels in the areas of disease transmission, increasing hospitalization, and limited hospital capacity specific to each county. Santa Cruz County has met the criteria to be on the state monitoring list as of July 20, 2020. Therefore, school districts, charter schools, and private schools are now required to provide distance learning instructional services only. Schools may reopen for in-person instruction once Santa Cruz County has not been on the county monitoring list within the prior 14 days. Santa Cruz County schools will reopen when local public health data demonstrates that it is safe to do so, with reduced transmission levels and the availability of testing and contact tracing for the school community.  Based on the trajectory of the pandemic in our county, it is unlikely schools will be able to re-open for in-person instruction prior to January 2021. 

This summer, the Santa Cruz County Office of Education and County school district Superintendents have been working in partnership with our local public health authorities to prepare guidelines for Santa Cruz County educational institutions that will facilitate a safe return to site-based classroom instruction for when local public health conditions allow. We are pleased to announce that this document is ready for distribution, and is applicable to all K-12 schools, public or private, throughout Santa Cruz County. View the Full Reopening Framework for Santa Cruz County Schools here. We are grateful for the collaborative efforts of our local public health department and the many teams of school personnel in the development of this framework.  

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented tremendous challenges to our education system and to the students and families that our schools serve, bearing disproportionate challenges for our most vulnerable youth. We recognize that the rapid emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic and sudden changes it has imposed on families has been extremely disruptive and a source of significant hardship. When our local COVID-19 data no longer places us on the CDPH monitoring list for the requirement of 14 consecutive days, Santa Cruz County schools will transition to in-person educational models that allow for the reintegration of limited, small group in-class learning opportunities for students. In the interim, Santa Cruz County public schools are committed to ensuring that all learners have the resources and access to essential services they need to succeed and thrive via distance learning.

Essential services including daily free meal and grocery programs, social and emotional support services, and free and reduced-cost internet connectivity will continue to be provided to students and families throughout the extended school closures. Parents can expect to be contacted by their child’s school for specific information and resources pertaining to their distance learning program as the first day of school draws nearer. 

With the incidence of COVID-19 on the rise in our county and state, it is more important than ever that we all do our best to avoid non-essential travel, comply with safe social distancing measures, wear face coverings when in the presence of others outside of our households, and practice healthy hand hygiene that limits the transmission of infectious disease. For information on Santa Cruz County COVID-19 data and resources for how to prevent the spread of illness, please visit santacruzhealth.org/coronavirus 

Yours in education and equity,

Laurie Bruton, Superintendent, San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District

Lorie Chamberland, Superintendent, Live Oak School District

Eric Gross, Superintendent, Pacific Elementary School District

Mike Heffner, Superintendent, Bonny Doon Union Elementary School District

Tanya Krause, Superintendent, Scotts Valley Unified School District

Michelle McKinny, Superintendent, Happy Valley Elementary School District

Diane Morgenstern, Superintendent, Mountain Elementary School District

Kris Munro, Superintendent, Santa Cruz City Schools

Michelle Rodriguez, Superintendent, Pajaro Valley Unified School District 

Faris Sabbah, County Superintendent of Schools

Scott Turnbull, Superintendent, Soquel Union Elementary School District

Updated: June 23, 2020 at 2:32 p.m.

Date: June 19, 2020 

To: Families of Santa Cruz County

Re: Juneteenth, State Guidance on Reopening of Schools, Community Resources through Summer

Dear Families of Santa Cruz County,

Today as we celebrate Juneteenth, a holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, we have an opportunity to further engage in this critical work of educating ourselves about the ways in which racism and oppression persist, learn about Black history, and reflect on how we can collectively transform our schools and communities into places of respect, safety, compassion, and equitable opportunity. 

Santa Cruz County School districts and charter schools continue to prepare for the reopening of schools under the restrictions established by our state and local authorities. It is important to note that based on the guidance from the Center for Disease Control, the California Department of Public Health, and the California Department of Education, schools will need to implement protocols that significantly reduce the number of students who can be on our school sites at any one time. This means that until state authorities reduce health restrictions, students will be attending class only part of the time and participating in distance learning for the remainder of the time. Districts and Charter Schools will be sharing school schedules with parents and students as soon as they are available. 

The battle over the proposed budget for California education funding draws on in Sacramento. As it stands, the State Assembly and Senate are currently at odds with Governor Newsom on the proposed budget and have yet to reach an agreement. Local and state education leaders and educational associations continue to share concerns about the impact the COVID-19 crisis will have on state and federal funding for schools. We need to stand with our students and advocate for the protection of this funding now more than ever. For resources on how to communicate with Santa Cruz County legislative representatives, please visit sccoe.link/legislative_advocacy

Many families continue to experience serious hardship impacting their ability to meet the needs of their students. We are fortunate to be part of a community that has quickly mobilized to create services that help meet both the basic needs and emotional health of families. Having a safe way to connect with others while we shelter in place is crucial to help foster a sense of community and belonging that is important to maintain emotional wellness. As we enter the summer months, we encourage you to access the following resources that are available to you: 

Basic Needs:  (Rental Assistance, Food resources)

Resources for Emotional Wellness

Non-Emergency Health Care 

Food Distribution

Public Health Resources

Other Resources

Yours in education and equity,

Laurie Bruton, Superintendent, San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District

Lorie Chamberland, Superintendent, Live Oak School District

Eric Gross, Superintendent, Pacific Elementary School District

Mike Heffner, Superintendent, Bonny Doon Union Elementary School District

Tanya Krause, Superintendent, Scotts Valley Unified School District

Michelle McKinny, Superintendent, Happy Valley Elementary School District

Diane Morgenstern, Superintendent, Mountain Elementary School District

Kris Munro, Superintendent, Santa Cruz City Schools

Michelle Rodriguez, Superintendent, Pajaro Valley Unified School District 

Faris Sabbah, County Superintendent of Schools

Scott Turnbull, Superintendent, Soquel Union Elementary School District

Prior Updates from Santa Cruz COE 

Updated: June 12, 2020 at 2:19 p.m.

Date: June 12, 2020

To: Families of Santa Cruz County

Re: State Guidance on School Reopening, and the Budget Battle in Sacramento

Dear Families of Santa Cruz County,

Our local school communities have been waiting anxiously to receive guidance from state agencies for clear direction on the re-opening of schools. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the California Department of Education (CDE) have both released documents that have been developed using the recommendations of public health authorities and are subject to change as the health crises evolves. While these state agencies have released these general guidelines to support all counties, districts and schools will need to follow the directives of their local public health authorities.

The CDPH guidance reflects ongoing safety concerns around COVID-19. The interim guidance is based on the “best available public health data, international best practices currently employed and the practical realities of managing school operations.” In addition, CDPH also released updated guidance for childcare programs and providers, including resources for parents and employers supporting employees with childcare needs.

These documents offer a handful of suggestions for how to reopen while maintaining social distancing, which could include keeping half the students home each day or providing in-person instruction primarily for the youngest students who are learning to read and write. However, the guide is mostly a checklist which includes nearly 80 questions districts need to answer that presents dozens, if not hundreds, of logistical issues schools will need to consider over the next two months.

To view the guidance documents referred to above, please visit the following links:
CDE Reopening Schools Document: www.cde.ca.gov/ls/he/hn/strongertogether.asp
CDPH Interim School Guidance: covid19.ca.gov/pdf/guidance-schools.pdf
CDPH updated guidance for childcare programs and providers: covid19.ca.gov/pdf/guidance-childcare.pdf
Our next step is to review this guidance with our local public health officer, Dr. Gail Newel, to develop specific direction for the schools of Santa Cruz County. Our goal is to define school parameters that allow us to reopen schools while minimizing risks to students and staff. Our planning continuums include scenarios with students attending school a few days out of the week and other scenarios where students are in school every day. We recognize that configurations that require students to participate in distance learning from home will continue to impact families.

Key to the reopening of schools is ensuring we have the financial resources to open school safely. Leaders of both houses of the Legislature confirmed that they are not going to be able to reach an agreement with the Governor before the deadline for having a budget bill ready for voting on Monday. Our legislative representatives feel strongly about their approach to protecting school funding and are remaining firm on their stance, however, we are concerned that Governor Newsom will continue to insist on cuts to education funding which could become likely to pass the longer the budget proposal draws out. The two leaders said that they will pass their version of the budget on Monday in order to meet the Legislature’s constitutional deadline but will continue meeting with the Governor to reach an agreement in time to enact a new budget by July 1st. Schools will need the help of our community to call on our state representatives to continue advocating for education. Please visit www.sccoe.link/legislative_Advocacy to find some helpful resources to participate in legislative advocacy for schools.

Additional Information
For the latest local updates on the coronavirus pandemic, visit the Santa Cruz County Public Health website at: https://sccoe.link/SCPublicHealth. In addition, you can also call 211 or text “coronavirus” to 211211. The Santa Cruz County Office of Education continues to update its web page and resources at www.sccoe.link/coronavirus.

Yours in education and equity,

Laurie Bruton, Superintendent, San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District
Lorie Chamberland, Superintendent, Live Oak School District
Eric Gross, Superintendent, Pacific Elementary School District
Mike Heffner, Superintendent, Bonny Doon Union Elementary School District
Tanya Krause, Superintendent, Scotts Valley Unified School District
Michelle McKinny, Superintendent, Happy Valley Elementary School District
Diane Morgenstern, Superintendent, Mountain Elementary School District
Kris Munro, Superintendent, Santa Cruz City Schools
Michelle Rodriguez, Superintendent, Pajaro Valley Unified School District
Faris Sabbah, County Superintendent of Schools
Scott Turnbull, Superintendent, Soquel Union Elementary School District

Updated: June 8, 2020 at 1:50 p.m.

Date: June 5, 2020 

To: Families of Santa Cruz County

Re: Black Lives Matter, Graduation, and Summer Services

Dear Families of Santa Cruz County,

Santa Cruz County schools join our community in the effort to disrupt systemic racism and the excessive use of police force that disproportionately impacts communities of color. The devastating deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and David McAtee at the hands of police officers in the last ninety days has again brought to light ongoing systemic inequality, oppression, and violence that Black Americans experience each day and the urgency in which it needs to be addressed. These tragic killings have also prompted us all to think deeply about how our identities and actions impact systems of racial discrimination. 

It is essential that we continue to prioritize equity in our schools and communities by embracing courageous conversations about race so that we can collectively transform our schools and communities into places of love, safety, accountability, and equitable opportunity. We must come together as a community to deepen our commitment to our shared values of diversity, inclusivity, and justice. Santa Cruz County schools stand in solidarity with our African American community and all communities of color, and are committed to taking concrete steps to crystalize this commitment. 

The ongoing pandemic and racial violence we are experiencing in our communities have been deeply painful and significantly affects our community’s emotional and mental health. It is important that we show care for one another and seek out support resources for ourselves and others when we need them. Our colleagues at the Los Angeles County Office of Education have gathered a collection of resources to help students process the unsettling emotions that they may be experiencing now, enable the community to deepen their understanding of the manifestations of racism in the United States, and provide positive actions toward justice and reform. The resources are available at this address: https://www.lacoe.edu/Curriculum-Instruction/Equity-Social-Justice-and-Engagement. The Santa Cruz County Office of Education is currently partnering with school districts and with our local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) to develop additional resources for our schools and our community. 

Despite these deeply troubling events weighing on the minds of our students and educational community, Santa Cruz County schools worked hard to host exciting and memorable graduation ceremonies over the last two weeks to honor the tremendous achievements of our graduates. A number of celebratory commencement activities approved as safe by local public health authorities took place including car parades, drive-up recognitions individualized for small family groups, virtual ceremonies, and pre-recorded video recognitions. We are so proud of our students for the resilience they have demonstrated to maintain their academic progress despite the transition to distance learning, massive upheavals in family life at home, extreme financial hardship, social isolation, and mental health challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis. We are also grateful to our dedicated school personnel and parents for helping to make these commencement ceremonies as special as possible for students during this challenging time. 

Superintendents of all Santa Cruz County public schools are continuing to work together and within their own districts to plan for the reopening of schools and prepare for a range of possible restrictions schools may be mandated to follow by health authorities. The final plans for the reopening of schools will depend on the direction we receive from the California Department of Public Health, the California Department of Education, and our County Public Health Officer. Some schools will have services available to families through the summer such as virtual summer classes and continued meal programs. Each school will be in contact with families shortly about summer services they will be offering and details about plans to re-open in the fall as more information from public health authorities becomes available. 

Additional Information

For the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic, visit the Centers for Disease Control website at: https://www.cdc.gov/COVID19. In addition, you can also call 211 or text “coronavirus” to 211211. The Santa Cruz County Office of Education continues to update its web page and resources at www.sccoe.link/coronavirus.

Yours in equity and education,

Laurie Bruton, Superintendent, San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District

Lorie Chamberland, Superintendent, Live Oak School District

Eric Gross, Superintendent, Pacific Elementary School District

Mike Heffner, Superintendent, Bonny Doon Union Elementary School District

Tanya Krause, Superintendent, Scotts Valley Unified School District

Michelle McKinny, Superintendent, Happy Valley Elementary School District

Diane Morgenstern, Superintendent, Mountain Elementary School District

Kris Munro, Superintendent, Santa Cruz City Schools

Michelle Rodriguez, Superintendent, Pajaro Valley Unified School District 

Faris Sabbah, County Superintendent of Schools 

Scott Turnbull, Superintendent, Soquel Union Elementary School District

Updated: Friday May 29 at 1:15 p.m.

Date: May 29, 2020 

To: Families of Santa Cruz County

Re: May 26th Public Health Order, Education Funding, and Legislative Advocacy 

Dear Families of Santa Cruz County,

On May 26th, Santa Cruz County public health authorities released a new public health order modifying prior local shelter-in-place orders to allow certain businesses and activities, such as in-store retail, churches, and office workspaces to resume so long as they can operate in compliance with ongoing social distancing protocols. For now, our schools remain closed. Gatherings outside of one’s household, gatherings violating safe social distance protocols, and all non-essential travel remain prohibited by this Order. Businesses are strongly encouraged to continue to carry out work from home if possible. Transmission of COVID-19 continues to pose a serious risk in our community if the guidelines set forth in this Order are not complied with. For more information and frequently asked questions about the May 26th Order, please visit santacruzhealth.org/coronavirus.

All Santa Cruz County School District Superintendents and Charter School Leaders are currently working together and within their organizations to develop plans to help prepare for a range of circumstances schools may face once public health authorities deem it safe to re-open schools. In order to meet health and safety requirements, schools may need to implement smaller class sizes, create different schedules, increase sanitization of school facilities, hire more staff, and make many other changes that will incur significant costs to schools.

Earlier this month, Governor Newsom’s May Budget Revision revised the state budget to include a 10% reduction to California public school funding caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The safety of students, families, and school staff will continue to be the highest priority of school leaders as we work to determine the safest methods to reintegrate back into classes on school campuses. We are deeply concerned that these budget cuts will not allow us to safely reopen our schools in the Fall. 

The Governor’s proposed 10% reduction is equivalent to losing $1,230 per student. These financial losses will strip districts of the resources needed to re-open schools. The Governor’s proposal also makes reductions to critical school services, such as Career and Technical Education programs, Adult Education, food services, child care providers’ ability to offer subsidized care, and additional cuts to early childhood, health and child welfare. 

California school leaders, educators, administrators, and classified staff are deeply concerned about the current financial crisis and are working together as a coalition to advocate for the protection of education funding. The current focus of this coalition is to oppose the Governor’s proposed cuts to education and urge state legislators to secure alternative revenue sources to help fund the critical expenses schools will need to safely reopen schools in a manner that complies with health authorities.  

California public schools need our state’s legislators to provide temporary flexibility to schools in how attendance is counted and instructional time requirements. Current education law does allow schools to receive funding from a combination of classroom-based and distance-learning environments, which will likely be how education must be delivered for some time. Further, schools would need to be granted a hold harmless agreement so that they are not penalized for fluctuations in funding as a result of the pandemic. 

School leaders and School Board members throughout Santa Cruz County will be working diligently to help advocate for the protection of education funding and necessary changes to school attendance and instructional regulations by passing resolutions in support of state and federal financial assistance for schools and communicating directly with the offices of our California and U.S. representatives. Parents and community members can join in this effort by calling, emailing, and writing letters to our state representatives to call on their support. Now more than ever, we need to stand with our students by advocating for the investment in public education. Thank you for your support of our students and schools. 

Additional Information

For the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic, visit the Centers for Disease Control website at: https://www.cdc.gov/COVID19. In addition, you can also call 211 or text “coronavirus” to 211211. The Santa Cruz County Office of Education continues to update its web page and resources at www.sccoe.link/coronavirus.

Sincerely,

Laurie Bruton, Superintendent, San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District

Lorie Chamberland, Superintendent, Live Oak School District

Eric Gross, Superintendent, Pacific Elementary School District

Mike Heffner, Superintendent, Bonny Doon Union Elementary School District

Tanya Krause, Superintendent, Scotts Valley Unified School District

Michelle McKinny, Superintendent, Happy Valley Elementary School District

Diane Morgenstern, Superintendent, Mountain Elementary School District

Kris Munro, Superintendent, Santa Cruz City Schools

Michelle Rodriguez, Superintendent, Pajaro Valley Unified School District 

Faris Sabbah, County Superintendent of Schools 

Scott Turnbull, Superintendent, Soquel Union Elementary School District

Updated: May 8, 2020 at 3:25 p.m.

May 8, 2020

To: Families of Santa Cruz County

Re: Framework for Reopening Schools

Dear Families of Santa Cruz County,

Santa Cruz County School Superintendents have begun developing a framework to help schools prepare for a variety of public health restrictions that may be required when it comes time to reopen school this fall.  The framework sets forth a continuum of restrictive school environments ranging from highly restrictive, moderately restrictive, least restrictive, and combinations of those distinct possibilities that may be necessary when school campuses re-open to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission in our community. The framework is divided into five focus areas to help guide our reopening plans: Health and Safety, Instructional Programs, Student Support, Family Engagement and Support, and Operations. Planning committees representing school districts and charter schools in the county are being assembled to work on each of these areas. Schools and  districts in Santa Cruz County vary in size, funding, and needs of their school population. The framework we are developing will account for these differences. 

All ten district Superintendents are committed to developing reopening plans that are guided by the following key principles: 

  • Keeping students and staff safe and healthy 
  • Engaging important school stakeholders such as students, parents, and staff, including bargaining unit members
  • Providing flexibility to accommodate the unique needs of districts, schools, teachers, and families 
  • Ensuring access and equitable educational practices for all students in Santa Cruz County 
  • Provide an engaging learning environment that supports the acceleration and not remediation

If social distancing practices are still required when public health authorities permit schools to begin reopening, it is likely that schools will need significantly more funding to properly implement new systems necessary to keep students safe and on-track with their academic progress. This comes at a time when schools are being instructed to brace for unprecedented financial losses. Governor Newsom’s financial advisors estimate that the total state revenue losses from the health pandemic will amount to $41.2 billion. For comparison, when the financial crisis hit in December 2008, early state revenue losses were estimated at $28 billion. This could result in devastating cuts of up to 22% of California’s school budget for 2020-21. We are taking all possible action to communicate the needs of Santa Cruz County schools to our state legislators to advocate for the protection of education funding and provide schools with as much flexibility as possible to weather the impending financial storm. 

The challenges we are facing in no way diminish the excitement we have for our students who will be promoting or graduating this June. So many of our students have worked exceptionally hard this year and have demonstrated remarkable resilience despite the major disruption to their academic program and social-emotional lives. Our school districts are working with their school communities to finalize commencement plans that are approved by our local Public Health Officer as safe to make these celebrations as special, fun, and memorable as possible. 

Sincerely,

Laurie Bruton, Superintendent, San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District

Lorie Chamberland, Superintendent, Live Oak School District

Eric Gross, Superintendent, Pacific Elementary School District

Mike Heffner, Superintendent, Bonny Doon Union Elementary School District

Tanya Krause, Superintendent, Scotts Valley Unified School District

Michelle McKinny, Superintendent, Happy Valley Elementary School District

Diane Morgenstern, Superintendent, Mountain Elementary School District

Kris Munro, Superintendent, Santa Cruz City Schools

Michelle Rodriguez, Superintendent, Pajaro Valley Unified School District

Faris Sabbah, County Superintendent of Schools 

Scott Turnbull, Superintendent, Soquel Union Elementary School District

Updated: May 1, 2020 at 12:55 p.m.

May 1, 2020

To: Families of Santa Cruz County

Re: Plans for the Reopening Schools

Dear Families of Santa Cruz County,

All Santa Cruz County school district Superintendents are currently working together to develop contingency plans to help prepare for a range of circumstances schools may face once public health authorities deem it safe to re-open schools. The safety of students, families, and school staff will continue to be the highest priority of school leaders as we work to determine the safest methods to reintegrate back into classes on school campuses. Families can expect to receive information from their school district of attendance as soon as that information becomes available.

If social distancing practices will still be required when public health authorities permit schools to begin reopening, it is likely that schools will need additional funding to properly implement new systems necessary to keep students safe and on-track with their academic progress. This impending need for additional resources comes at a time when schools are bracing for major reductions in state funding for schools due to the impact of the pandemic on state revenues and expenses. School districts will be challenged to optimize their resources and develop innovative ways to continue providing high-quality education with significantly less funding.
Governor Gavin Newsom stated in his April 28th press conference that while no action has been taken regarding when or how schools will reopen later this year, he “is considering the prospect” of an early start to the academic year as early as late July provided that schools and businesses are able to continue implementing safe social distancing practices. It is important to note that the Governor stated that this was not a directive, but merely a possibility among many others that is under consideration.
While we recognize that our community is eager to return to work and school, Santa Cruz County schools will take action to re-open schools only when enough information becomes available to create a plan that minimizes health and safety risks to students, staff, and families. The current risk of COVID-19 transmission in California varies greatly by each county, which underscores the importance that decisions to lift shelter-in-place orders should be informed by local data and continuously monitored by public health officials so that we do not experience a resurgence in COVID-19 cases in our community.
The decision to change the start dates for the approved 2020-2021 school calendars would need to be proposed by the district superintendent for approval from each school district’s governing board with input from important school stakeholders such as certificated and classified personnel, parents, and students. In some districts, this process will also include negotiations with collective bargaining unit members. Any changes would be proposed carefully and only if it is the best course of action for our school community.
Governor Newsom highlighted barriers that disproportionately prevent the most vulnerable students in our communities from participating in distance learning required to maintain their academic progress. We, too, are concerned about this discrepancy and are making a concerted effort to meet both the academic and social-emotional needs of all students.
Educators across Santa Cruz County are working to provide meals to students, deliver high-quality distance learning, and support the needs of our most vulnerable youth. We are committed to ensuring students have the resources and services they need to continue their academic progress despite the closure of our school facilities. We are working diligently to provide students with the most appropriate and engaging distance learning programs and making preparations for the reopening of school in August.

Sincerely,

Laurie Bruton, Superintendent, San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District
Lorie Chamberland, Superintendent, Live Oak School District
Eric Gross, Superintendent, Pacific Elementary School District
Mike Heffner, Superintendent, Bonny Doon Union Elementary School District
Tanya Krause, Superintendent, Scotts Valley Unified School District
Michelle McKinny, Superintendent, Happy Valley Elementary School District
Diane Morgenstern, Superintendent, Mountain Elementary School District
Kris Munro, Superintendent, Santa Cruz City Schools
Michelle Rodriguez, Superintendent, Pajaro Valley Unified School District
Faris Sabbah, County Superintendent of Schools
Scott Turnbull, Superintendent, Soquel Union Elementary School District

Updated: April 24, 2020, 4:16 p.m. 

Date: April 24, 2020

To: Santa Cruz County Students and Families

Re: Family Wellness and Support Services

Dear Families of Santa Cruz County,

As we near the end of the 6th week of school closures, we understand that many families are grappling with exceptionally difficult circumstances as a result of the COVID-19 crisis and are in need of a range of additional services. Santa Cruz County schools recognize that it is our role to advocate for and support students and families beyond providing learning opportunities. 

Many families are experiencing serious hardship that impacts their ability to meet the needs of their students. We are fortunate to be part of a community that has quickly mobilized to create services that help meet both the basic needs and emotional health of families. Having a safe way to connect with others while we shelter in place is crucial to help foster a sense of community and belonging that is important to maintain emotional wellness. 

Santa Cruz County School Districts and the County Office of Education have been collaborating with local counseling, parenting, and support services agencies to develop new ways to help families address these needs, such as online/virtual support and networking experiences for both students and parents to help create a safe virtual space where families can share, learn, and lean on each other in these challenging and isolating times. Many families have reported that while they were initially resistant to using virtual communication tools for support, they found it very helpful once they started. Visit our webpage atsccoe.link/wellness and visit the links listed below for helpful social-emotional wellness opportunities and other emergency resources for families specific to the challenges caused by the COVID-19 crisis.

Resources for Emotional Wellness

Basic Needs:  (Rental Assistance, Food resources)

Non-Emergency Health Care 

  • *For a Medical Emergency, Call 911

Food Distribution

  • The Santa Cruz COE web page including an interactive map of school based food services distributions: www.sccoe.link/coronavirus
  • USDA Food Distribution Locator Tool: https://www.fns.usda.gov/meals4kids and USDA National Hunger Hotline, which provides referrals for emergency food options M-F between 7am and 10pm at 1-866-3-HUNGRY (1-866-348-6479)
  • Second Harvest Food Hotline: (831) 662-0991

Distribution Locations: thefoodbank.org/food-distribution-nutrition-education-locations-times/

Public Health Resources

Other Resources

Santa Cruz County schools continue to work closely with public health authorities to monitor the COVID-19 crisis and evaluate when and how schools will be able to safely re-open their campuses. Educators, administrators, and school staff are working more closely than ever to help ensure students have the resources and services they need to maintain their academic progress despite school closures and the challenges that come with distance learning. We commend our school and parent community for the flexibility, dedication, and resilience they continue to demonstrate as they help support students with their education and well-being through the COVID-19 crisis.

Sincerely,

Laurie Bruton, Superintendent, San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District

Lorie Chamberland, Superintendent, Live Oak School District

Eric Gross, Superintendent, Pacific Elementary School District

Mike Heffner, Superintendent, Bonny Doon Union Elementary School District

Tanya Krause, Superintendent, Scotts Valley Unified School District

Michelle McKinny, Superintendent, Happy Valley Elementary School District

Diane Morgenstern, Superintendent, Mountain Elementary School District

Kris Munro, Superintendent, Santa Cruz City Schools

Michelle Rodriguez, Superintendent, Pajaro Valley Unified School District

Faris Sabbah, County Superintendent of Schools 

Scott Turnbull, Superintendent, Soquel Union Elementary School District

Updated: March 31, 2020, 2:49 p.m.

Date: March 27, 2020

To: Santa Cruz County Students and Families

Re: Extension of School Closures through May 5, 2020

Dear Families of Santa Cruz County,

All Santa Cruz County school Superintendents in mutual agreement with Santa Cruz County’s Public Health Officer feel it is appropriate and necessary to extend the period of school closures through May 5th, 2020 to reduce the spread of COVID-19 to the maximum extent possible. The safety, health, and wellbeing of students, school personnel, and the community are the highest priorities of all schools and districts. Building on the regional coordination of jurisdictions within Santa Cruz County, school districts and the Santa Cruz County Office of Education continue to work together to align our strategies and practices in regard to this unprecedented crisis.  Schools will continue to provide essential services during this time such as nutrition services and continuity of learning services. 

Schools will observe the routinely scheduled break in services to students during the week of spring break. During this time, schools will not be offering food services nor distance learning. Pajaro Valley Unified School District, spring break will take place from March 31 through April 3. All other districts will observe spring break from April 6 – April 10.

As we transition into spending more time indoors and are grappling with all the challenges that come with it, schools recognize the need to continue providing social and emotional support to families.  Parents and students are being asked to help cultivate an environment conducive to learning at home while they manage unanticipated consequences of the COVID-19 crisis, which often compounds stress for families at home.  To this end, all ten Superintendents and the County Office of Education in collaboration with local counseling, parenting and support services agencies are working to develop ways to help students and parents address these needs. We have created a webpage with detailed resources located at sccoe.link/wellness. Efforts are also underway in districts to offer online/virtual support and networking experiences for students and parents to ensure there are places for families to share, learn and lean on each other in these challenging times.

During this time, Santa Cruz County residents are expected to strictly adhere to the “Shelter in Place” order issued by Governor Newsom and Public Health Officer, Dr. Gail Newel. In addition, all residents are urged to keep practicing the guidance provided by Public Health including:

  • Social distancing
  • Washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Staying home if you are feeling sick
  • Contacting your healthcare provider if you are experiencing any symptoms such as fever, cough, or difficulty breathing.
  • Engaging in regular exercise or physical activity

This is a dynamic situation where information and circumstances can evolve quickly. We are working diligently to ensure our online resources are updated regularly with the most accurate information from public health authorities. Please utilize the following resources: 

It’s crucial that our counties receive adequate state and federal funding to provide crucial resources and services to the communities they serve, especially in times of crisis. One way that we can advocate for continuity of fair federal and state funding to our area is to help ensure Santa Cruz County is accurately counted in the 2020 Census. The Census is a simple 9 question survey and responses are confidential and protected by law. Every Californian can now respond to the Census online at https://my2020census.gov, by phone, or by mail. For more information and frequently asked questions, please visit california census.org

We acknowledge the ongoing challenges and hardship that extended school closures pose for students and families. As educators, administrators, and school staff, we are committed to ensuring students have the resources and services they need to continue their academic progress despite school closures. We commend our school community for the flexibility, dedication, and resilience they continue to demonstrate to make continuity of these vital services possible. 

Sincerely,

Laurie Bruton, Superintendent, San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District

Lorie Chamberland, Superintendent, Live Oak School District

Eric Gross, Superintendent, Pacific Elementary School District

Mike Heffner, Superintendent, Bonny Doon Union Elementary School District

Tanya Krause, Superintendent, Scotts Valley Unified School District

Michelle McKinny, Superintendent, Happy Valley Elementary School District

Diane Morgenstern, Superintendent, Mountain Elementary School District

Kris Munro, Superintendent, Santa Cruz City Schools

Michelle Rodriguez, Superintendent, Pajaro Valley Unified School District

Faris Sabbah, County Superintendent of Schools 

Scott Turnbull, Superintendent, Soquel Union Elementary School District

Updated March 24, 2020, 5:03 p.m.

To: Santa Cruz County Students and Families

Date: March 20, 2020

Re: Update on Services Through School Closures

Dear Families of Santa Cruz County,

School Districts and the County Office of Education continue to work together to provide our students and families with essential services throughout school closures due to COVID-19. Though our county’s school districts vary in size and resources, we are equally committed to the success and wellness of our students, and are sharing expertise and resources between districts whenever possible.  

Yesterday, Governor Gavin Newsom issued a statewide Shelter in Place order to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). This order does not change directions previously issued to Santa Cruz County residents, but rather only directs other California counties to adhere to the same restrictions. The Governor has not specified an end date to the order, but anticipates school closures to continue into the summer months. It is our responsibility as a school community to be prepared for the possibility of a long closure. In a previous communication, we shared that schools will be closed through April 10, 2020. We will continue to work with public health authorities to determine the appropriate length of school closures across Santa Cruz County as more information becomes available. 

Teachers throughout Santa Cruz County have been working diligently to prepare and plan for distance learning. We intend to provide all students from Transitional Kindergarten to 12th grade with learning materials that ensure their access to high-quality education throughout the closures. We recognize the challenges distance learning poses for families and are committed to supporting parents in helping their children access education from home. 

We are currently in the planning stages of how services specific to Special Education students will be delivered based on individual student needs.  For students with Individualized Education Plans (IEP), our Special Education staff or classroom teachers will be in contact with parents to review what to expect in the upcoming weeks.  This may include, but is not limited to, virtual service delivery and/or consultation with providers via phone, email, or other use of technology in order to supplement packets or materials sent home, as appropriate. 

We are working to help ensure all families have equitable access to internet services at home. Several internet service providers in the community are now offering free or low cost internet service to low income families. Internet access is key to help facilitate our efforts to offer engaging distance learning opportunities for students and help families learn about how they can access essential services in the community. Please visit sccoe.link/internet to learn how your family may qualify for free or low cost internet services.

School Superintendents continue to work closely together and with the Department of Public Health to share information and make informed decisions on behalf of our school community.  We ask that parents adhere to the “Shelter in Place Order”, practice social distancing, and proper personal hygiene practices to minimize the risks of exposure and transmission of illness at home. 

Parents are encouraged to call or email their child’s school or district prior to visiting the site in person if they have questions or need services beyond the food programs available to their student or to pick up distance learning materials. Schools will observe the routinely scheduled break in services to students during the week of spring break. During this time, schools will not be offering food services nor distance learning. Pajaro Valley Unified School District, spring break will take place from March 31 through April 3. All other districts will observe spring break from April 6 – April 10.

We are working diligently to ensure our online resources are updated regularly with the most accurate information from public health authorities. Please utilize the following resources: 

Now more than ever, the continued education of our students despite school closures represents a strong partnership between teachers, classified staff, and other educators and parents and guardians. We commend our school community for the flexibility, commitment, and resilience they have demonstrated to make continuity of these vital services possible. 

Sincerely,

Laurie Bruton, Superintendent, San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District
Lorie Chamberland, Superintendent, Live Oak School District
Eric Gross, Superintendent, Pacific Elementary School District
Mike Heffner, Superintendent, Bonny Doon Union Elementary School District
Tanya Krause, Superintendent, Scotts Valley Unified School District
Michelle McKinny, Superintendent, Happy Valley Elementary School District
Diane Morgenstern, Superintendent, Mountain Elementary School District
Kris Munro, Superintendent, Santa Cruz City Schools
Michelle Rodriguez, Superintendent, Pajaro Valley Unified School District
Faris Sabbah, County Superintendent of Schools

Updated: March 13, 2020, 4:00 p.m.

Date: March 12, 2020

To: Families of Santa Cruz County

Re: All Santa Cruz County School Closure March 16 – 20, 2020

Dear Families of Santa Cruz County,

The safety and wellness of students, families, and school personnel are the highest priorities of all Santa Cruz County schools and districts. Yesterday, we received notification of the first confirmed case of COVID-19 at Rio Del Mar Elementary School. In advance of more COVID-19 cases that are anticipated to follow, School District Superintendents and the Santa Cruz County Office of Education have decided in concurrence with the Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency to close all public Santa Cruz County schools for the week of March 16-20. We will reassess at the end of next week whether an extension of school closures beyond March 20th will be necessary. Santa Cruz County Public Health Officer, Dr. Gail Newel, reported that while the number of cases in our county remains small at this time, the Santa Cruz County Public Health Division expects those numbers to grow significantly in the coming days and weeks which may require a continued response. 

Schools will remain in session tomorrow, March 13, 2020. This will provide students an opportunity to receive direction and gather educational materials from their teachers. Our school staff will work together throughout the closure to provide the vital services and resources our schools offer to our community, including, but not limited to, free and reduced meal programs. Schools will be contacting families promptly about services available to them throughout the closure.

Several other districts in California and across the country have made similar choices, including San Francisco Unified School District, Carmel Unified School District, the state of Ohio, and the state of Maryland. 

While we recognize this decision will pose challenges and hardship to many families in our county, the most effective way to slow and disrupt the transmission of this pandemic is by implementing social distancing practices. During the time of the school closure, we are asking that students and families follow the County’s Public Health Officer’s directive to stay home and minimize social contact to the extent possible. Protecting public health requires a community-wide response, and we will need the help of families to help remain united in our response. While children have not been shown to be a high-risk group for serious illness from COVID-19, they are still able to transmit the virus to populations who are most vulnerable to serious illness, such as older adults and those with compromised immune systems. Please encourage students to avoid large public gatherings such as malls, movie theaters, and other spaces, especially those that are indoors. 

We understand that implementing these changes with such limited notice is challenging and disruptive, and we appreciate your patience and cooperation. We are grateful to community members throughout our county for their tremendous efforts during these challenging times.

This is a dynamic situation where information and circumstances can evolve quickly. For the latest updates, visit the Centers for Disease Control 2019 novel coronavirus website at: https://www.cdc.gov/COVID19. The Santa Cruz County Office of Education continues to update its web page at www.sccoe.link/coronavirus. For ideas on how to talk to your children about COVID-19 please visit: sccoe.link/talking_about_COVID19. For local information, residents may visit www.santacruzhealth.org/coronavirus, call 211 or text “coronavirus” to 211211. 

Sincerely,

Laurie Bruton, Superintendent, San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District

Lorie Chamberland, Superintendent, Live Oak School District

Eric Gross, Superintendent, Pacific Elementary School District

Mike Heffner, Superintendent, Bonny Doon Union Elementary School District

Tanya Krause, Superintendent, Scotts Valley Unified School District

Michelle McKinny, Superintendent, Happy Valley Elementary School District

Diane Morgenstern, Superintendent, Mountain Elementary School District

Kris Munro, Superintendent, Santa Cruz City Schools

Michelle Rodriguez, Superintendent, Pajaro Valley Unified School District 

Faris Sabbah, County Superintendent of Schools 

Scott Turnbull, Superintendent, Soquel Union Elementary School District

Fecha: 12 de marzo de 2020

Re: Cierre de todas las escuelas del condado del 16 de marzo al 20 de marzo de 2020

Estimadas familias del condado de Santa Cruz:

La seguridad y el bienestar de los estudiantes, las familias y el personal escolar son las principales prioridades de todas las escuelas y distritos del condado de Santa Cruz. Ayer, recibimos notificación del primer caso confirmado de COVID-19 en la Escuela Primaria Rio Del Mar. Antes de más casos de COVID-19 que se espera que sigan, los Superintendentes del Distrito Escolar y la Oficina de Educación del Condado de Santa Cruz han decidido, junto con la Agencia de Servicios de Salud del Condado de Santa Cruz, cerrar todas las escuelas públicas del Condado de Santa Cruz durante la semana de marzo 16-20. Al final de la próxima semana volveremos a evaluar si será necesaria una extensión de los cierres escolares más allá del 20 de marzo. La Dra. Gail Newel, Oficial de Salud Pública del Condado de Santa Cruz, informó que aunque el número de casos en nuestro condado sigue siendo pequeño en este momento, la División de Salud Pública del Condado de Santa Cruz espera que esos números crezcan de manera significante en los próximos días y semanas, lo que puede requerir una respuesta continua.

Las escuelas permanecerán en sesión mañana, 13 de marzo de 2020. Esto brindará a los estudiantes la oportunidad de recibir instrucciones y reunir materiales educativos de sus maestros. El personal de nuestra escuela trabajará en conjunto durante el cierre para proporcionar los servicios y recursos vitales que nuestras escuelas ofrecen a nuestra comunidad, incluidos, entre otros, programas de comidas gratis o de precio reducido. Las escuelas se pondrán en contacto con las familias a la brevedad sobre los servicios disponibles para ellos durante todo el cierre.

Varios otros distritos en California y en todo el país han tomado decisiones similares, incluido el Distrito Escolar Unificado de San Francisco, el Distrito Escolar Unificado Carmel, el estado de Ohio y el estado de Maryland.

Aunque que esta decisión planteará desafíos y dificultades a muchas familias en nuestro condado, la forma más efectiva de frenar e interrumpir la transmisión de esta pandemia es mediante la implementación de prácticas de distanciamiento social. Durante el cierre de la escuela, solicitamos que los estudiantes y las familias sigan las instrucciones del Oficial de Salud Pública del Condado de quedarse en casa y minimizar el contacto social en la medida de lo posible. Proteger la salud pública requiere una respuesta de toda la comunidad, y necesitaremos la ayuda de las familias para ayudar a permanecer unidos en nuestra respuesta. Si bien no se ha demostrado que los niños sean un grupo de alto riesgo de enfermedades graves por COVID-19, aún pueden transmitir el virus a las poblaciones más vulnerables a enfermedades graves, como los adultos mayores y aquellos con sistemas inmunes comprometidos. Aliente a los estudiantes a evitar grandes reuniones públicas como centros comerciales, cines y otros espacios, especialmente aquellos que están en el interior.

Entendemos que implementar estos cambios con un aviso tan limitado es un reto, y agradecemos su paciencia y cooperación. Estamos agradecidos con los miembros de la comunidad en todo nuestro condado por sus enormes esfuerzos durante estos tiempos difíciles.

Esta es una situación dinámica donde la información y las circunstancias pueden evolucionar rápidamente. Para obtener las últimas actualizaciones, visite el sitio web de coronavirus novedoso de los Centros para el Control de Enfermedades 2019 en: https://www.cdc.gov/COVID19. La Oficina de Educación del Condado de Santa Cruz continúa actualizando su página web en www.sccoe.link/coronavirus. Para obtener ideas sobre cómo hablar con sus hijos sobre COVID-19, visite: sccoe.link/talking_about_COVID19. Para obtener información local, los residentes pueden visitar www.santacruzhealth.org/coronavirus, llamar al 211 o enviar un mensaje de texto con la palabra “coronavirus” al 211211.

Sinceramente,

Laurie Bruton, Superintendent, San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District

Lorie Chamberland, Superintendent, Live Oak School District

Eric Gross, Superintendent, Pacific Elementary School District

Mike Heffner, Superintendent, Bonny Doon Union Elementary School District

Tanya Krause, Superintendent, Scotts Valley Unified School District

Michelle McKinny, Superintendent, Happy Valley Elementary School District

Diane Morgenstern, Superintendent, Mountain Elementary School District

Kris Munro, Superintendent, Santa Cruz City Schools

Michelle Rodriguez, Superintendent, Pajaro Valley Unified School District 

Faris Sabbah, County Superintendent of Schools 

Scott Turnbull, Superintendent, Soquel Union Elementary School District

Updated: March 9, 2020 12:39 p.m.

 
Date: March 8, 2020

Re: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update to Families


Dear Santa Cruz County families:

Yesterday we were notified by Santa Cruz County Public Health of the first confirmed  COVID-19 diagnosis in Santa Cruz County. Santa Cruz County Public Health is conducting a thorough investigation to identify any potential exposures that may have occurred. 

While COVID-19 represents a serious public health threat, the risk to Santa Cruz County residents remains low. However, as the outbreak continues to spread, Santa Cruz County Public Health anticipate there will be additional reported local cases and is prepared to investigate potential exposures, and continues collaborating with local, state and federal agencies to implement containment efforts while providing notifications to the public and community agencies as the situation evolves. 

On March 6, Public Health Officer, Dr. Gail Newel met with leaders and health personnel from school districts, the County Office of Education, charter schools, and private schools to provide an update, answer questions, and review response plans. Earlier this week, Dr. Newel declared a local health emergency, and the County activated its Emergency Operation Center (EOC) to bolster response efforts. The school districts continue to work collectively to address the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and are in frequent contact with the County. 

Cleaning, Disinfecting, and Sanitizing Protocols
Districts met Friday to review and update our cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing protocols. We reviewed the materials, equipment, training, and proper protective equipment as part of a broad approach to preventing infectious diseases in schools in line with recommendations from the CDC. Our protocols include the daily sanitizing of surfaces and objects that are touched often within classrooms, public spaces, and school buses. Cleaning agents being utilized are approved by the Environmental Protection Agency and rated as effective against COVID-19. This countywide team reaffirmed our commitment to support every school district to ensure these protocols are implemented consistently and effectively.

School Closures

At this point no school closures are taking place in Santa Cruz County. Closing schools is a difficult decision as it has impacts on students, families and employers. In accordance with guidance from the California Department of Public Health and our County Health Officer school closure will be a measure to be taken if one student, teacher or staff member tests positive for COVID-19 and exposed others at the school. The length of time of the closure will be based on the risk level as determined by the local public health officer, though it is expected that such closure would be for a minimum of 14 days. During this time, the school will undergo deep cleaning and sanitizing. We are making preparations for continuity of education through distance learning solutions for students in the advent of school closure. It is important for parents to prepare for the possibility of a school closure. 

Field Trips and Student Competitions
Out of an abundance of caution, we have made the difficult decision to cancel all field trips with destinations outside of Santa Cruz County. Travel restrictions to athletic and music competitions will be handled on a case by case basis to minimize risk to students and staff.


Preventative Measures

We are continuing our efforts to help ensure students and parents/guardians have accurate information about how they can help protect themselves and their families. We are urging students and families who are sick to please stay home and contact their health care provider if necessary. 

The Santa Cruz County Public Health Division continues to advise the following steps to prevent the spread of flu will also guard against the spread of COVID-19: 

  • wash hands frequently with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds;
  • use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available;
  • get your flu shot to protect against flu or symptoms similar to COVID-19;
  • avoid close contact with people who are sick;
  • cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash;
  • avoid shaking hands;
  • clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using regular household cleaning supplies;
  • avoid touching your face with unwashed hands;
  • stay home from school or work when you are sick; and
  • call your primary care provider for instructions BEFORE seeking in-person care for flu-like symptoms

This is an emerging situation where information and circumstances can evolve quickly. For the latest updates, visit the Centers for Disease Control 2019 novel coronavirus website at: https://www.cdc.gov/COVID19. The Santa Cruz County Office of Education continues to update its web page at www.sccoe.link/coronavirus.

For local information, residents may visit www.santacruzhealth.org/coronavirus, call 211 or text “coronavirus” to 211211. Messaging rates may apply. Thank you. 

Sincerely,

Laurie Bruton, Superintendent, San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District

Lorie Chamberland, Superintendent, Live Oak School District

Eric Gross, Superintendent, Pacific Elementary School District

Mike Heffner, Superintendent, Bonny Doon Union Elementary School District

Tanya Krause, Superintendent, Scotts Valley Unified School District

Michelle McKinny, Superintendent, Happy Valley Elementary School District

Diane Morgenstern, Superintendent, Mountain Elementary School District

Kris Munro, Superintendent, Santa Cruz City Schools

Michelle Rodriguez, Superintendent, Pajaro Valley Unified School District 

Faris Sabbah, County Superintendent of Schools 

Scott Turnbull, Superintendent, Soquel Union Elementary School District

Fecha: 8 de marzo de 2020

Re: Actualización de Coronavirus (COVID-19) para las familias

Estimadas familias del condado de Santa Cruz:

Ayer, el Departamento de Salud Pública del Condado de Santa Cruz nos notificó el primer diagnóstico confirmado de COVID-19 en el Condado de Santa Cruz. Están llevando a cabo una investigación exhaustiva para identificar cualquier posible exposición que pueda haber ocurrido

Aunque COVID-19 representa una amenaza seria para la salud pública, el riesgo para los residentes del condado de Santa Cruz sigue siendo bajo. Sin embargo, a medida que el brote continúa propagándose, el Departamento de Salud Pública del Condado de Santa Cruz anticipa que habrá casos locales adicionales reportados y está preparado para investigar posibles exposiciones, y continúa colaborando con agencias locales, estatales y federales para implementar esfuerzos de contención mientras proporciona notificaciones al público. y agencias comunitarias a medida que evoluciona la situación.

El 6 de marzo, la Dra. Gail Newel, Oficial de Salud Pública, se reunió con líderes y personal de salud de los distritos escolares, la Oficina de Educación del Condado, las escuelas autónomas y las escuelas privadas para proporcionar una actualización, responder preguntas y revisar los planes de respuesta. A principios de esta semana, la Dra. Newel declaró una emergencia de salud local, y el Condado activó su Centro de Operaciones de Emergencia (EOC) para reforzar los esfuerzos de respuesta. Los distritos escolares continúan trabajando colectivamente para abordar el nuevo brote de coronavirus (COVID-19) y están en contacto frecuente con el Condado.

Protocolos de limpieza y desinfección

Los distritos se reunieron el viernes para revisar y actualizar nuestros protocolos de limpieza y desinfección. Revisamos los materiales, el equipo, la capacitación y el equipo de protección adecuado como parte de un enfoque amplio para prevenir enfermedades infecciosas en las escuelas de acuerdo con las recomendaciones de los CDC. Nuestros protocolos incluyen la desinfección diaria de superficies y objetos que se tocan a menudo dentro de las aulas, espacios públicos y autobuses escolares. Los agentes de limpieza serán aprobados por la Agencia de Protección Ambiental y clasificados como efectivos contra COVID-19. Este equipo del condado reafirmó nuestro compromiso de apoyar a cada distrito escolar para garantizar que estos protocolos se implementan de manera consistente y efectiva.

Cierres de escuelas

En este punto no se están cerrando escuelas en el condado de Santa Cruz. Cerrar las escuelas es una decisión difícil ya que tiene un impacto en los estudiantes, las familias y los empleadores. De acuerdo con los consejos del Departamento de Salud Pública de California y nuestro Oficial de Salud del Condado, se cerrará la escuela si un estudiante, maestro o miembro del personal es diagnosticado con COVID-19 y expone a otros en la escuela. El período de tiempo del cierre se basará en el nivel de riesgo determinado por el oficial de salud pública local, aunque se espera que dicho cierre sea por un mínimo de 14 días. Durante este tiempo, la escuela se someterá a una limpieza profunda y desinfección. Estamos haciendo preparativos para la continuidad de la educación a través de soluciones de aprendizaje a distancia para estudiantes en el advenimiento del cierre de la escuela. Es importante que los padres se preparen para la posibilidad de un cierre de la escuela.

Excursiones y competiciones estudiantiles

Con mucha precaución, hemos tomado la difícil decisión de cancelar todas las excursiones con destinos fuera del condado de Santa Cruz. Las restricciones de viaje a las competencias deportivas y musicales se manejarán caso por caso para minimizar el riesgo para los estudiantes y el personal.

Medidas de Prevención

Continuamos nuestros esfuerzos para ayudar a garantizar que los estudiantes y los padres / tutores tengan información precisa sobre cómo pueden ayudar a protegerse a sí mismos y a sus familias. Instamos a los estudiantes y familias que están enfermos a que se queden en casa y se comuniquen con su proveedor de atención médica si es necesario. La actividad de la influenza es alta en este momento y es importante limitar la propagación de la gripe en nuestras escuelas.

La División de Salud Pública del Condado de Santa Cruz continúa aconsejando que los siguientes pasos para prevenir la propagación de la gripe también protegen contra la propagación de COVID-19:

  • lavarse las manos frecuentemente con agua y jabón, durante al menos 20 segundos;
  • use desinfectante para manos con al menos 60% de alcohol si no hay agua y jabón disponibles;
  • vacunarse contra la gripe para protegerse contra la gripe o síntomas similares a COVID-19;
  • Evitar el contacto cercano con personas que están enfermas;
  • cubra su tos o estornude con un pañuelo desechable, luego tírelo a la basura;
  • evite darse la mano;
  • limpie y desinfecte objetos y superficies que se tocan con frecuencia utilizando productos de limpieza domésticos habituales;
  • evite tocarse la cara con las manos sin lavar;
  • quedarse en casa de la escuela o el trabajo cuando esté enfermo; y
  • llame a su proveedor de atención primaria para obtener instrucciones ANTES de buscar atención en persona para síntomas parecidos a la gripe

Esta es una situación emergente donde la información y las circunstancias pueden evolucionar rápidamente. Para obtener las últimas actualizaciones, visite el sitio web de coronavirus novedoso de los Centros para el Control de Enfermedades 2019 en: https://www.cdc.gov/COVID19. La Oficina de Educación del Condado de Santa Cruz continúa actualizando su página web en www.sccoe.link/coronavirus.

Para obtener información local, los residentes pueden visitar www.santacruzhealth.org/coronavirus, llamar al 211 o enviar un mensaje de texto con la palabra “coronavirus” al 211211. Se pueden aplicar tarifas de mensajería. Gracias.

Sinceramente,

Laurie Bruton, Superintendent, San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District

Lorie Chamberland, Superintendent, Live Oak School District

Eric Gross, Superintendent, Pacific Elementary School District

Mike Heffner, Superintendent, Bonny Doon Union Elementary School District

Tanya Krause, Superintendent, Scotts Valley Unified School District

Michelle McKinny, Superintendent, Happy Valley Elementary School District

Diane Morgenstern, Superintendent, Mountain Elementary School District

Kris Munro, Superintendent, Santa Cruz City Schools

Michelle Rodriguez, Superintendent, Pajaro Valley Unified School District 

Faris Sabbah, County Superintendent of Schools 

Scott Turnbull, Superintendent, Soquel Union Elementary School District

Date: March 4, 2020, 1:30 p.m.

The Santa Cruz County Human Services Agency Public Health Division has declared a Health Emergency in Santa Cruz County. This emergency declaration is intended to boost preparation efforts against further coronavirus cases and will allow the county government to request additional aid from the state if local resources run low. There are currently no confirmed cases in Santa Cruz County.

Updated: March 3, 2020

Re: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Notice to Families


Dear Santa Cruz County families:

All ten Santa Cruz County school districts, in partnership with the Santa Cruz County Office of Education and Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency Public Health Division, are working collectively to address the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. While there remain zero confirmed cases within Santa Cruz County at this time and the risk to our community remains low, incidents of the disease are growing globally and within the United States, including the San Francisco South-Bay Area. 

The Santa Cruz County Office of Education has launched a web page that will be updated regularly to offer updates, resources, and links to other agencies. You can access this page at www.sccoe.link/coronavirus. The Santa Cruz County Public Health Division is also working diligently to provide accurate and timely information on their website at https://www.santacruzhealth.org/Coronavirus.

We will be prepared in the event that an outbreak does occur in Santa Cruz County. Because COVID-19 has the potential for long-term disruption to our community and to our schools, we are taking the following actions to limit the spread of the disease so that impacts to our students and families are temporary and brief:

  • We are urging students and families who are sick to please stay home and contact your health care provider if necessary. Influenza activity is high at this time, and limiting the spread of the flu in our schools is important. 
  • We ask that anyone who has had known contact with a COVID-19 patient, has traveled abroad to an area impacted by COVID-19, or who is exhibiting symptoms of fever, cough and difficulty breathing, to contact a medical professional IMMEDIATELY so that a confirmed diagnosis may be reported to the Santa Cruz County Public Health Division. 
  • Custodians will utilize disinfecting cleaners and gloves to disinfect classrooms and public places. 
  • We are helping to ensure students have accurate information about how they can help protect themselves and their families, including proper hand hygiene, safe coughing, and sneezing techniques. 
  • We are working with our local Health Services Agency regarding preparedness and response protocols for any future COVID-19 cases. 

The COVID-19 outbreak is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation, and preparedness and response information may change quickly. Our response may include temporary school closures to facilitate campus cleanings and to help mitigate the spread of the disease. School closures will be implemented under the direction of the Santa Cruz County Public Health Division, and we urge families to have plans in place for how your family would manage a school closure or how to keep all members of the household free from illness if a caregiver becomes sick.

At this time, we do not plan to cancel future field trips or take other measures to limit social interactions. We will make any necessary adjustments to travel plans as more information about COVID-19 becomes available, and final decisions will be at the discretion of each school district.

The Santa Cruz County Public Health Division also advises that steps to prevent the spread of flu will also guard against the spread of COVID-19. They include:

  • wash hands frequently with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds;
  • get your flu shot to protect against flu or symptoms similar to COVID-19;
  • use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available;
  • avoid close contact with people who are sick;
  • cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash;
  • avoid shaking hands;
  • clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using regular household cleaning supplies;
  • avoid touching your face with unwashed hands;
  • stay home from school or work when you are sick; and
  • call your primary care provider for instructions BEFORE seeking in-person care for flu-like symptoms

Please continue to check this COE page for updates: www.sccoe.link/coronavirus

Thank you. 

Sincerely,

Laurie Bruton, Superintendent, San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District

Lorie Chamberland, Superintendent, Live Oak School District

Eric Gross, Superintendent, Pacific Elementary School District

Mike Heffner, Superintendent, Bonny Doon Union Elementary School District

Tanya Krause, Superintendent, Scotts Valley Unified School District

Michelle McKinny, Superintendent, Happy Valley Elementary School District

Diane Morgenstern, Superintendent, Mountain Elementary School District

Kris Munro, Superintendent, Santa Cruz City Schools

Michelle Rodriguez, Superintendent, Pajaro Valley Unified School District 

Faris Sabbah, County Superintendent of Schools 

Scott Turnbull, Superintendent, Soquel Union Elementary School District

Updated: March 2, 2020, 5 p.m.

At this point in time, the immediate health risk for the general public from novel coronavirus (now named COVID-19) is believed to be low, per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) representatives at a press conference on February 25, 2020. The Santa Cruz County Office of Education is in contact with Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency Public Health Division and continues to monitor the California Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s information for updates. We are currently working with school districts to review Safety Plans, test lines of communications, and develop protocols for prevention and appropriate responses if any active cases develop in our community. Further information and resources will be posted shortly. In the meantime, please refer to the updates and FAQ’s on the the Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency Public Health Division’s website.

The COVID-19 outbreak is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation, and preparedness and response information may change quickly. The Santa Cruz COE is continuing to work closely with the Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency Public Health Division to remain informed about as more information becomes available.