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Santa Clara County Issues Health Requirements And Guidance For School Reopenings

Sarah Lai Stirland
Santa Clara County issued health regulations and guidance for K-12 schools Tuesday, but did not say when school can start again

Santa Clara County officials on Tuesday issued some requirements and recommendations for reopening schools.

The county did not commit to a firm date for opening K-12 school campuses.

But in a guidance document, the public health department said that schools should prioritize in-person instruction along with strict safety protocols.

That generally means that everyone on a campus will have to wear face masks most of the time. They also must maintain a six feet distance from each other as much as possible.

The county said that neither recommendation applies to elementary school students because they need close contact for their emotional and academic development.

At a press conference in San Jose, Santa Clara County’s schools superintendent Mary Ann Dewan said schools may take many measures to protect people.

“The first thing is that there will be more social distancing and physical distancing as children enter schools at the elementary level. Some classrooms will need to remove furniture, desks will be in rows — facing the front so that they're not facing each other,” she said.

Additionally, extracurricular activities won’t be allowed unless schools can accommodate social distancing requirements.

The county recommends schools have a backup plan for remote learning in case campuses have to be shut down again.

Similar plans and protocols are being developed in other counties across the Bay Area, including San Mateo. The Oakland and San Francisco Unified School Districts are drafting proposals to consider both part-time or entirely remote teaching models, with announcements expected later this month.

Sarah Lai Stirland is a freelance journalist and editor living in the South Bay. Her reporting background is in technology, science writing, law and policy. For the past few years, she's written about issues related to aging.