Superintendent’s Update July 2020

A Message from the Superintendent

The health and wellness of students, staff, and families continue to be the highest priority of Santa Cruz County School Superintendents and Charter School Leaders as we plan for the 2020-2021 school year. Yesterday, Governor Newsom announced that California must immediately re-implement restrictions for certain activities including dine-in restaurants, bars, wineries, movie theaters, family entertainment centers, zoos, and museums due to the recent uptick in California’s COVID-19 case data. Counties that are added to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) COVID-19 Monitoring List will be required to shut down more activities including fitness centers, worship services, protests, offices for non-essential sectors, and personal care services. Santa Cruz County is not currently on the Monitoring List, but our county’s public health modeling does project that our county is likely to be placed on this list and be subject to further restrictions soon. We believe the same indicators, grounded in science, should be utilized to determine if school campuses will be safe to allow groups of students to gather in classrooms and school campuses. 

Due to the continued upward trend of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Santa Cruz County and the county’s lack of capacity to provide COVID-19 testing for the school community, we will be utilizing the CDPH criteria for State monitoring to determine if schools should open the 2020/21 school year with a distance learning model. The criteria set by CDPH for Counties across California are determined by elevated levels in the areas of disease transmission, increasing hospitalization, and limited hospital capacity. If Santa Cruz County is added to the list of counties being monitored by the state, we will recommend all school districts shift to a distance learning model for the start of the school year. 

While we wish to ensure that in-person learning is an option for students at the start of the 2020-2021 school year, which is particularly important for our most vulnerable students and families,  we must take a course of action that both ensures the safety of our community and provides high-quality education and essential services to families.  Santa Cruz County public schools are committed to ensuring that all learners have the resources they need to succeed and thrive during these challenging circumstances regardless of whether classroom learning continues to be an option for the start of the 2020-2021 school year. 

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

Yours in education,

Dr. Faris Sabbah
Superintendent of Schools

Current Status of Covid-19 in Santa Cruz County

charts with dataEach week, we highlight stories that demonstrate the experienced inequities, struggles, and resilience of many families throughout the COVID-19 crisis.  Information found on the Santa Cruz County Public health website demonstrates that Santa Cruz County is experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases. This surge has been linked back to large social gatherings. We strongly encourage all our families to stay vigilant in wearing face coverings, continue safe social distances, wash their hands often, and follow other guidance of our health authorities. 

Department Updates

CTEP Update

CTEP is proud is expanding its services countywide with the addition of two grant funded positions. Todd Rabusin is our new pathways coordinator and Scott Keller is our new Information Technology Coordinator. We will be working closely with the CTE consortium to better serve our students in Santa Cruz County.

Human Resources Update

As the COE gears up for the 2020-2021 school year, the HR department is in the final stages of staffing the instructional programs. The HR department is also creating the return to office procedures and protocols for the main office as employees prepare for a very unique school year.

Educational Services Update

Kevin Drinkard, Santa Cruz COE’s Math Coordinator, will be hosting a countywide Virtual Math Camp on July 20-24th. The goal during camp is to provide a place for students to have fun, explore problems, learn math content and practices, develop their own power and identity as young mathematicians, make new friends, and to use math to explore equity and social justice. The event will provide students a fun and interactive way to work on math problems and puzzles with their family and peers and engage with teachers in a Google Classroom. This event will be offered in both English and Spanish.

Student Support Services Update

It’s time again for Stuff the Bus! The Santa Cruz COE is proud to partner with United Way of Santa Cruz County again this year for Stuff the Bus: School Supply Fundraiser to help supply students experiencing homelessness or financial hardship with the supplies they will need for the upcoming school year – whether they will be continuing with distance learning or learning in the classroom. This fundraiser will help provide students with new backpacks, pencils, paper, face coverings, tissues, hand sanitizer, and more. A $25 donation will provide one student with a backpack filled with brand new school supplies. If you would like to donate, please visit our campaign page at to learn more. Thank you for your support of Santa Cruz County students!

Please note: The safety of wellness of staff, students, and families are our highest priority. We can only accept monetary donations this year – no donations of supplies will be accepted. Participation in the stuffing of backpacks will be strictly limited in order to comply with all required social distancing guidelines. The handling of all supplies and coordination of the stuffing of backpacks will comply with all social distancing guidelines set forth by our local and state public health authorities.