San Mateo County, CA — The recent move of San Mateo County to the Orange Tier of the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy allows additional sectors of the economy to reopen. While the move will likely increase confidence in returning students to campus for in-person instruction, it does not have a direct impact on schools and the process for reopening them to in-person instruction.

Schools in the county will continue to follow the guidance included in the Pandemic Recovery Framework and provided by San Mateo County Health (SMCH) and the California Department of Public Health. They will also continue to submit their reopening plans to the San Mateo County Office of Education (SMCOE) and SMCH for review. The review process is intended to support schools in developing plans that allow for a safe return to school for students and staff. The review process will continue if and when the county further improves its COVID-19 data and moves to the Yellow Tier.

The transition to the Orange Tier, which indicates the COVID-19 risk level is moderate, demonstrates the progress the county has made in stemming the spread of COVID-19 as well as the availability of increased testing. This positive news, in addition to evidence showing that the return to in-person learning is happening without increasing community transmission, should make it easier for teachers and families to feel confident about a return to campus. Schools in the county that have been open for weeks also report that there has been no spread of COVID-19 in their schools and families and teachers are pleased to be back.

“Although it is impossible to guarantee that any place is completely safe – either with or without COVID-19 –  by carefully following the safety protocols of the Pandemic Recovery Framework, which includes face coverings, physical distancing, screening, testing, and contact tracing, schools are demonstrating that in-person learning can occur safely for students and staff,” explained Superintendent Nancy Magee. “All school leaders are intent on getting students back on campus to learn, interact with teachers and peers, and receive the benefits that come with being at school. In order to accomplish this, school leaders are clear that the return to in-person learning must be done gradually and thoughtfully. With the support of San Mateo County Health, SMCOE, and the Pandemic Recovery Framework, with its focus on safety and an incremental approach, I am confident we will get there.”