Redwood City, CA–The San Mateo County Office of Education (SMCOE) and San Mateo County Health jointly released an application today allowing schools and districts to request a waiver to bring TK-6th grade students on campus for in-person learning.

Since San Mateo County joined the State’s COVID-19 monitoring list on August 2nd, all of its TK-12 schools – public, private, and charter – have been required to start the school year with distance learning. The State did allow, however, for counties to develop a waiver process to bring TK-6th grade students back on campus for in-person instruction. SMCOE and San Mateo County Health worked closely together to develop the application and review process released today.

As part of the application process, schools and districts must share a return-to-school plan that is aligned with guidance from the California Department of Public Health, San Mateo County Health, and the Pandemic Recovery Framework (PRF). Applicants must include information on how they plan to implement the Four Pillars, including health and hygiene, including face coverings, physical distancing, and limiting gathering, and conduct COVID-19 contact tracing and testing. They must also share which labor, parent, and community groups they consulted in the reopening process.

SMCOE will initially review the waiver applications and then send them to San Mateo County Health for review and approval. If approved, they will be submitted to the California Department of Public Health for review.

“I encourage schools to explore the waiver option in order to get children in the early elementary grades on campus. In-person instruction is particularly valuable to younger students whose foundational literacy and numeracy skills are paramount to long-term academic success,” explained San Mateo County Superintendent of Schools Nancy Magee. “It’s important to add that while shifting to in-person instruction, schools must continue to be thoughtful and effective in implementing the Four Pillars in the PRF to ensure a healthy and safe learning environment for students and staff.”

The application and instructions can be found on the SMCOE website.


The San Mateo County Office of Education is committed to ensuring excellence and equity in education by inspiring students, investing in teachers, invigorating leaders, and involving communities.