All San Diego County Schools Banned From Reopening Until COVID-19 Numbers Improve

July 17, 2020

California Governor Gavin Newsom today ordered all school campuses to remain closed when the academic year begins in counties on the state's monitoring list due to spiking coronavirus cases, including San Diego County.
The state order means districts across Southern California will begin the new school year with social distance learning programs, as opposed to in-person classes. The state's two largest districts, Los Angeles Unified and San Diego Unified, had already announced plans to begin the new academic year with online-only courses, but many private schools were making plans to reopen for in-class learning.

Newsom said school campuses will only be allowed to open in counties that have been off the state's monitoring list for at least 14 days. Counties are placed on the monitoring list based on a variety of factors, including coronavirus transmission and fatality rates. As of Friday, 32 California counties were on the list, including San Diego.  

Schools that are eventually allowed to reopen will have to meet a series of other requirements, including mandatory masks for staff and students in third-grade and above, physical distancing mandates and regular on-campus coronavirus testing. Newsom also said distance-learning programs at closed campuses must be "rigorous," with daily student interaction.  

"Learning in the state of California is simply non-negotiable," Newsom said. "Schools must provide meaningful instruction during this pandemic whether they are physically open, the schools, or not. Our students, our teachers, staff and certainly parents, we all prefer in-classroom instruction for all the obvious reasons - social and emotional, foundationally, but only if it can be done safely. Safety is foundational, and safety will ultimately make the determination of how we go about educating our kids as we move into the fall and we work our way through this pandemic."  

Under the guidelines announced by Newsom, in schools that are allowed to open, students and staff in individual classrooms will be sent home when a single case in the class is confirmed. The entire school will be closed if cases are confirmed in multiple classrooms, or if more than 5% of the school tests positive for the virus.  An entire district will be closed if 25% of its schools are shut down in a 14-day period. Open schools will be expected to have a series of infection-control measures in place, including morning symptom/temperature checks, hand-washing stations, deep sanitation efforts and quarantine protocols. San Diego County Superintendent of Schools Paul Gothold said county school districts were working to be ready for whatever the school year brings.  

"Local schools are doing everything they can to craft plans for the 2020-21 school year that have the academic, social and emotional well-being of students and families at the center," said Superintendent Gothold. "By being thoughtful now, we can find effective solutions that keep our students and staff safe. Our approach has been to encourage schools to plan for a full spectrum of requirements around symptom screening, physical distancing, facial coverings and limits on gathering sizes, recognizing that conditions may call for full or partial implementation of these measures based on state guidance."

The number of daily COVID-19 cases in San Diego County crossed 600 for the first time today as the number of total cases rose to 22,489.  County public health officials reported a record 634 new cases and seven additional deaths, raising the death count to 472.