San Mateo County, CA—The Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Santa Clara, San Mateo, and San Francisco County Superintendents of Schools in collaboration with the Public Health Officers in their respective counties, urge school administrators, teachers, and parents to work together to plan for full in-person instructional programs in classrooms for all grades in the fall with the continued use of face coverings as a common-sense risk reduction strategy.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Bay Area county schools were united in their efforts to prioritize and maintain the safety and wellness of students, school personnel, and the communities within these counties. They remain united in this effort, and families can feel safe returning to school campuses this fall.
“Because San Mateo County schools worked collaboratively and closely adhered to our county’s Pandemic Recovery Framework for Schools, we were able to safely conduct in-person learning opportunities for students, especially those in high priority groups,” said San Mateo County Superintendent of Schools Nancy Magee. “We are excited to move forward into full in-person learning for all students in the fall, while also continuing to closely partner with San Mateo County Health in ensuring safe conditions for our students, staff, and families.”
Public health researchers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the California Department of Public Health, and local health departments have learned from the research and the experiences of classroom instruction from the fall of 2020 through the spring of 2021. In short, the risk of transmission among children wearing masks is very low, even with reduced spacing between desks.
In the Bay Area and throughout the state, many factors indicate that the risk of classroom transmission has decreased as community case rates have fallen. Rates of vaccination among people at increased risk of severe disease are high and the overall community prevalence of COVID-19 is low. San Mateo County’s Adjusted Case Rate is 0.4% as of June 8, 2021. Therefore, the Bay Area County Superintendents of Schools are united in their message to urge all schools to plan for the full return to in-person instruction in the fall.
The California Department of Public Health’s reopening framework for schools offers guidelines for limiting the spread of infection and requirements for face covering, basic cleaning, enhanced ventilation, and other measures to facilitate a safe return to in-person instruction. Schools have implemented these practices and brought students and teachers back to campus.
Students, parents, teachers, coaches – and their families – have made considerable sacrifices throughout the pandemic. After much hard work and resilience on the part of school leaders and the broader community, conditions now allow schools to offer the full range of learning and support programs that our educational communities typically provide.
The current guidance for schools is based on evidence from the CDC that shows vaccines are extremely effective in protecting vaccinated individuals from infection, severe illness, and death, as well as preventing them from spreading COVID-19 to others. Additionally, increasing vaccination rates helps mitigate the spread of new variants that are more likely to infect those who are unvaccinated. The wearing of face coverings in schools complements vaccinations and helps protect people who cannot yet get vaccinated, people who may not get the full benefit from the vaccine, and people with weakened immune systems. All persons aged 12 and older are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.
The governor has announced plans to end the tier system on June 15 and fully reopen California’s economy, as long as vaccine supply remains sufficient to meet demand and hospitalization rates are stable and low. COVID-19 vaccines are safe, free, and effective, and are now available to everyone aged 12 and up. Visit San Mateo County Health's website to book an appointment or find a drop-in location near you.