San Mateo County, CA — San Mateo County’s transition back to the Red Tier of the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, announced by the State earlier today, does not impact the operation of schools or the process for returning students to in-person instruction. Additionally, education is considered an “essential” activity by the State – not a gathering – and, therefore, is not impacted by the State’s recently updated guidance on gatherings.

Schools in the county that are currently operating in-person instruction have all developed plans and are implementing the guidance provided in the Pandemic Recovery Framework. These plans, which have been reviewed by San Mateo County Health and the County Office of Education, provide layers of protective measures, including face coverings, physical distancing, testing, contact tracing, health screenings, and regular cleaning and disinfection. As a result of these safety measures, schools in the county are not experiencing outbreaks of COVID-19 and will continue to serve students on campus.

“By following the guidance provided in the Pandemic Recovery Framework, schools are showing they can do this even if conditions in the county change. Nonetheless, we remain alert to State and County guidance, and the County Office of Education continues to build the capacity of schools to pivot to distance learning if public health officials advise,” explained San Mateo County Superintendent of Schools Nancy Magee.

After many months of distance learning, students and staff who have returned to campus are reaping the benefits that in-person interaction provides. Schools are consistently reporting that, after some initial trepidation, students and teachers are happy to be back on campus, feel safe, and are thriving. Even those schools bringing back students on a very limited basis are finding that the on-campus interactions offer students mental health, social, and academic benefits.

“As school communities continue to create in-person experiences for students, we are seeing the enormous benefit to students of being back on campus, even for short periods of time,” explained San Mateo County Superintendent of Schools Nancy Magee.

This view was shared by Superintendents from San Mateo County school districts that have returned students to campus for learning and support.

“Children exit excitedly from their cars each morning, so excited to be with their teacher and classmates after months of online learning,” shared Amy Wooliever, Superintendent of the La Honda-Pescadero Unified School District.

Erik Burmeister, Superintendent of the Menlo Park City School District added, “Despite the understandable anxieties, the return model that Menlo Park City School District and others have implemented has managed risks and allowed our students and staff to experience the benefits of in-person learning for their academic, social, and emotional well being. As a society, if we sacrifice to keep anything open during a pandemic, it should be our schools. Districts throughout San Mateo County are showing how that can be done.”