A new school year is upon us, and it is with excitement that we welcome students back to classrooms across the schools of Santa Cruz County this and next week. Offering full-time, in-person instruction during the 2021-22 school year is a foundational priority, and our schools are ready to support students in myriad ways, from curriculum, to nutrition, to socio-emotional health.
The requirement for all education staff to be fully vaccinated or tested weekly, announced rently by Governor Newsom, is another critical step that aligns with science, and public health recommendations, to create the safest environment possible as we welcome students back to school. The requirement applies to all TK-12 teachers and support staff at both public and private schools, and it must be fully implemented by Oct. 15. We know that in-person instruction is imperative for the well-being of our students. Districts, schools, and educational leaders have spent months planning and working to open our campuses safely, and now it is our priority to keep them open. These extra prevention measures will help us accomplish this.
The public health order is part of an effort to protect Californians from the more infectious Delta variant circulating at alarming rates within our communities. It is also a reflection of a steadfast commitment to ensuring that all students are able to access full-time, in-person learning. Vaccination is the single most important step that we can take to keep our classrooms and communities safe, particularly when students under age 12 are not yet eligible. Students need not be vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend schools, though we urge those who are eligible to do so. Please visit myturn.ca.gov to schedule a vaccine appointment at a local clinic.
Our districts, the County Office of Education, charter schools, private schools and our public health partners are working diligently to expand screening testing for COVID-19. Through our phased-in plan, we will be able to offer on-site testing for teachers and support staff at most schools in Santa Cruz County, and all districts and schools are adding capacity to test students to ensure they are able to remain in school. On August 11, the COE launched a central testing location available to all school staff.
We are continuing to review the details of the new vaccination verification requirement in collaboration with our public health and labor partners, and we will share all pertinent information as it arises. Thank you, once again, for all that you do to keep our classrooms safe and open.
Yours in education and equity,
Santa Cruz County Superintendents
Congratulations Sharon on your Retirement!
Sharon DeJong has spent the last 31 years working at the COE in the Special Education Department. She always brought a smile to our faces. She is a kind hearted person, always giving back to the students. On her last day, she donated fun activities for the students!
We wish Sharon a happy retirement and best of wishes as she enjoys a new chapter in her life.
COE & United Way's Stuff the Bus Event 2021
We stuffed more than 2,000 backpacks with new school supplies for the 2021-22 school year for Santa Cruz County youth who need them, and we have already begun distribution to all our school districts and partner non-profit agencies, such as CASA. The event occurred at Kaiser Permanente Arena – Santa Cruz Warriors Stadium on Saturday, August 7th, and included volunteers from United Way, Bay Federal Credit Union, UPS, The Warriors, COE, and many more community members.
The most recent data from the County Office of Education states that there are nearly 4,000 youth who are currently experiencing homelessness or extreme hardship in Santa Cruz County, which can include being doubled up in households or living in non-habitable dwellings. The aim is to target youth currently experiencing homelessness and/or other hardships with these
supports. The COE helped raise more than $5,000 itself for this effort that annually raises $25,000-30,000.