COVID-19 Update: Status of Reopening

Dear West Side Families,

As we continue the school year, I wanted to update you regarding school reopening plans. There has been recent communication circulating about schools reopening, and this letter is to explain recent developments and how they impact our school district. Thank you to the Windsor School District for sharing the following information to the school districts in our county consortium.  All of us are committed to sharing information and resources during this challenging time.

Governor Newsom: Governor Gavin Newsom recently announced a proposal to encourage schools to resume in-person instruction as early as 2/16/2021 for students in grades TK-2, and 3/15/2021 for students in grades 3-6, by providing incentive grants under the new “Safe Schools for All Plan”. In his speech on 12/30/2020 he stated that schools could apply for the grants if the average rate of infections in a County over a 7 day period were less than 28 cases per 100,000 residents. 

This would be a massive change to the current threshold to open without a waiver. Currently, school districts are not eligible to open without a waiver until entering into the red tier, when the average rate of infection over a 7 day period is less than 7 cases per 100,000 residents. Governor Newsom has proposed that school districts reopen when the case count is 4 times that number. The proposal still needs to go through the legislative process before being implemented at the local level. As such, the district will be continuing to operate under the metrics that we have been utilizing over the past months until all of this has been worked out at the state capitol.

Sonoma County Metrics: Sonoma County remains in the purple tier within California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy. Below you will find the current metrics for Sonoma County, and the thresholds to move to the red tier under the “Blueprint for a Safer Economy”:

  • Rate of new daily cases/100,000 population: 38.6 🡪 less than 7 to move to the red tier.
  • Testing positivity rate: 9% 🡪 less than 8% to move to the red tier.
  • Regional ICU availability is 7.4% 🡪 more than 15% to avoid mandatory Regional Stay-Home Order.
  • Equity metric testing positivity rate is 13.5% 🡪 less than 8% to move to the red tier.

Re-Opening Plan: The district is still moving forward with returning to school when it is safe to do so, which happens when in the red tier and following public health guidelines.

Vaccine: It has been established that school personnel will be the first group to be offered vaccines in phase 1b, which is the next tier of priority after the current 1a phase, which is expected to wrap up in late January or early February. Getting all of our school personnel vaccinated could be a potential game changer for reopening. There are a number of things that still need to be worked out, such as who is administering the vaccine, where it will take place, whether or not it is required, how long it will take to get everyone vaccinated, etc. We are encouraged the school personnel is next and its positive impact on offering in-person instruction sooner.  We are awaiting more information about the details of this process. 

Return to In-Person Instruction This Year: I wish I could definitely state when we will be able to return in person. West Side will continue to focus on providing quality distance learning. It is my hope that the promise of vaccinations will be married with a decrease in the rates of COVID-19, and that ICU bed availability improves.

West Side will be ready to welcome back our students!  Thank you for all that you are doing to support our students during this time.