As we reflect on the many things we’re grateful for in our lives this November, I would like to express my deep appreciation and gratitude for our community of students, parents, school personnel, and board members. Thank you for your flexibility, patience, and perseverance as we continue to navigate the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis. It continues to be an extremely difficult time for many of us and the educational community stands in solidarity with you as we navigate these challenges together.
Santa Cruz County schools continue to work closely with our local public health authorities to monitor public health conditions and make plans to bring small groups of students back to classrooms as safely as possible when local COVID-19 conditions improve. In Santa Cruz County, schools may offer in-person instruction to small, stable cohorts to the highest need students, but the expansion of hybrid in-person instruction is not permitted until our county is able to emerge from the Widespread (purple) tier.
Although the recent announcement that our county was one of many to have moved back to the Widespread (Purple) Tier under the California Blueprint for a Safer Economy was discouraging, it’s important we do our best to adhere to all of the recommended precautionary measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our community, especially this upcoming holiday season. Public health authorities recommend avoiding gatherings beyond our own households, wearing face coverings, practicing effective hand hygiene, physical distancing are some of the most powerful steps to reduce transmission of the virus. Participating in surveillance testing and making sure to get a flu shot this year is also highly recommended.
We anticipate the immediate path ahead will continue to be challenging and recognize how stressful, isolating, and exhausting the pandemic has been for our community socially, emotionally, and economically. We must continue to come together as a community, tap into the inspiring resilience of our students, and support each other as we overcome the many challenges we face.
Yours in education,
Dr. Faris Sabbah
Superintendent of Schools
Blueprint for a Safer Economy
As a result of the recent dramatic increase of COVID-19 cases in California, Governor Newsom’s has announced that Santa Cruz County is one of many counties to move to the Widespread (Purple) Tier within the California Blueprint for a Safer Economy. This announcement immediately increases restrictions for a range of economic activities, including prohibiting schools from expanding to a hybrid schedule. Santa Cruz County Districts and Charter Schools are now reviewing the impact of this announcement on our timelines for the expansion of in-person instruction.
While in the purple tier, schools are unable to begin implementing a hybrid schedule where most students return to in-person instruction without a waiver from their local public health department for TK-6 grades. Such waivers are not authorized within Santa Cruz County at this time. However, under the Governor’s Blueprint and California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Guidance schools are able to continue offering in-person instruction to small stable cohorts for the highest need groups.
In order to disrupt the upward trend of COVID-19 in our community, we must be vigilant going forward, especially this holiday season, to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by taking all precautions possible to stop the spread of the virus. On November 13, the CDPH released a new travel advisory and guidance regarding gatherings related to travel and gatherings. This guidance states that all people traveling out of state or country should quarantine for 14 days upon their return and sets parameters to minimize social situations that bring together people from different households at the same time in a single space or place. The guidance mandates that no more than three households gather for social situations, and recommends the utilization of distancing, face coverings, handwashing, minimizing time span, and other guidance to minimize the risks to those gathered. Working in conjunction with Public Health, our schools will also continue to strengthen our readiness protocols including surveillance testing, rapid access testing, contact tracing, isolation, quarantining, and cleaning/disinfecting systems.
We recognize that the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, including prolonged distance learning, continues to be extraordinarily difficult for students and their families. Santa Cruz County schools will continue to work closely with our local and state public health authorities and our school community to monitor COVID-19 data to determine when health conditions would permit us to resume planning for hybrid instruction.
Educational Services Update
Migrant Head Start, Santa Cruz has provided childcare to 150 children so far this season in their 27 family childcare homes. Family child care providers learned to understand and follow all of the Covid procedures required by the State and the County. Many of the children’s activities and learning have been moved outdoors—except of course during the recent smoke alerts. The biggest challenge is keeping masks on the younger children. Migrant Head Start received 140 donated masks for students. A focus this year is to increase the migrant children’s exposure to the African American community through the purchase of children’s books and multicultural art materials.