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Schools should encourage but not require students to wear face coverings, draft guidance says

Students should be encouraged but not required to use face coverings when California schools reopen for classroom instruction, according to a draft of "interim guidance" from the state obtained by EdSource.

However, all staff should use face coverings, according to the document, which sources familiar with it say was drawn up by the California Department of Public Health in collaboration with the governor's office.

That is only one of the numerous issues addressed in the document on what schools need to take into account when reopening. The guidelines, it says, are based on "the best available public health data at this time, international best practices and the practical realities of managing school operations."

School administrators around the state have been grappling with the multi-dimensional complexities of reopening schools in a system that serves over 6 million students, by far the largest enrollment in the nation.

What is striking about the guidance, at least in its draft form, is the flexibility that it would allow school districts on multiple issues. The document acknowledges the diversity of California's districts and communities. It says that implementation of the guidance "will depend on local public health conditions" and "should be tailored for each setting," taking into account "the needs of students and families."

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One of the biggest worries of school administrators is how to ensure social distancing in a school setting. Significantly, the draft guidance does not require 6-feet distancing for students, except for 6 feet between the teacher's desk and their students. Rather, it calls "for maximizing space between seating, desks and bedding" and for schools to consider various ways "to establish separation of students through other means if practicable." Those could include "6 feet between desks, partitions between desks, markings on classroom floors to promote distancing or arranging desks in a way that minimizes face-to-face contact."

Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to announce his widely anticipated guidance on school reopenings soon, perhaps as early as Friday. Jesse Melgar, Newsom's press secretary, declined to comment on the draft guidance but said "the administration is committed to continuing to work with all stakeholders to support the safe reopening of schools."

Terms like "to the extent practicable," "as much as practical" and "to the extent possible" are dotted throughout the 10-page document. Here's one example: "Students should remain in the same space and in groups as small and consistent as practicable," and schools should "keep the same students and teacher or staff with each group to the greatest extent practicable."

In addition, schools should "limit communal activities where possible. If this is not possible, stagger use, properly space occupants and disinfect between uses." It also calls on schools "to minimize congregate movement through hallways as much as practicable." For example, schools should designate "more ways to enter and exit a campus," and set up "staggered passing times when necessary, or when students cannot stay in one room."

As for staff who become ill, schools should provide "flexible sick leave" -- once again "to the extent practicable."

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The document seems to be responding to concerns raised by many school administrators about the difficulties of having younger children wear masks, or maintaining social distance at all times in large middle and high schools where students have to move from one classroom to another throughout the school day.

Nearly a dozen district superintendents in Los Angeles County last week sent Newsom and other officials a strongly worded letter saying that keeping students 6 feet apart was "impractical" and "unrealistic" to expect students, especially those with disabilities or very young children, to wear face coverings for an entire school day.

Regarding the controversial issue of masks, the draft interim guidance says "students should be encouraged to use cloth face coverings, especially in circumstances when physical distancing cannot be maintained."

That said, the guidance also outlines daunting procedures that it recommends schools adopt. Students' temperatures would need to be taken on arrival with "no-touch" thermometers, along with "visual wellness checks." Students and staff would need to be questioned about whether they have experienced Covid-19 symptoms, or if anyone in their household has, and they would need to be monitored throughout the day for signs of illness. Schools would need to be cleaned and disinfected daily, including door handles, sink handles, bathroom surfaces, drinking foundations, playground equipment and shared objects like toys, games and art supplies.

It encourages schools to introduce "fresh outdoor air as much as possible -- at the same time making sure that opening windows doesn't pose a safety or health risk by, for example, allowing pollens in or exacerbating asthma symptoms. It advises school districts to check water systems that have been shut down for a long time to minimize the risk of Legionnaires' disease and other water-related diseases.

The guidance, at least in its draft form, ducks the issue of what to do about school sports and extracurricular activities. It does say that schools should limit gatherings to those where physical distancing is possible along with "proper hand hygiene. Further advice on those issues "is forthcoming," according to the document.

-- Story by Louis Freedberg of EdSource. To read the article in its original presentation, visit the EdSource website.

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Schools should encourage but not require students to wear face coverings, draft guidance says

Uploaded: Mon, Jun 1, 2020, 2:13 pm

Students should be encouraged but not required to use face coverings when California schools reopen for classroom instruction, according to a draft of "interim guidance" from the state obtained by EdSource.

However, all staff should use face coverings, according to the document, which sources familiar with it say was drawn up by the California Department of Public Health in collaboration with the governor's office.

That is only one of the numerous issues addressed in the document on what schools need to take into account when reopening. The guidelines, it says, are based on "the best available public health data at this time, international best practices and the practical realities of managing school operations."

School administrators around the state have been grappling with the multi-dimensional complexities of reopening schools in a system that serves over 6 million students, by far the largest enrollment in the nation.

What is striking about the guidance, at least in its draft form, is the flexibility that it would allow school districts on multiple issues. The document acknowledges the diversity of California's districts and communities. It says that implementation of the guidance "will depend on local public health conditions" and "should be tailored for each setting," taking into account "the needs of students and families."

One of the biggest worries of school administrators is how to ensure social distancing in a school setting. Significantly, the draft guidance does not require 6-feet distancing for students, except for 6 feet between the teacher's desk and their students. Rather, it calls "for maximizing space between seating, desks and bedding" and for schools to consider various ways "to establish separation of students through other means if practicable." Those could include "6 feet between desks, partitions between desks, markings on classroom floors to promote distancing or arranging desks in a way that minimizes face-to-face contact."

Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to announce his widely anticipated guidance on school reopenings soon, perhaps as early as Friday. Jesse Melgar, Newsom's press secretary, declined to comment on the draft guidance but said "the administration is committed to continuing to work with all stakeholders to support the safe reopening of schools."

Terms like "to the extent practicable," "as much as practical" and "to the extent possible" are dotted throughout the 10-page document. Here's one example: "Students should remain in the same space and in groups as small and consistent as practicable," and schools should "keep the same students and teacher or staff with each group to the greatest extent practicable."

In addition, schools should "limit communal activities where possible. If this is not possible, stagger use, properly space occupants and disinfect between uses." It also calls on schools "to minimize congregate movement through hallways as much as practicable." For example, schools should designate "more ways to enter and exit a campus," and set up "staggered passing times when necessary, or when students cannot stay in one room."

As for staff who become ill, schools should provide "flexible sick leave" -- once again "to the extent practicable."

The document seems to be responding to concerns raised by many school administrators about the difficulties of having younger children wear masks, or maintaining social distance at all times in large middle and high schools where students have to move from one classroom to another throughout the school day.

Nearly a dozen district superintendents in Los Angeles County last week sent Newsom and other officials a strongly worded letter saying that keeping students 6 feet apart was "impractical" and "unrealistic" to expect students, especially those with disabilities or very young children, to wear face coverings for an entire school day.

Regarding the controversial issue of masks, the draft interim guidance says "students should be encouraged to use cloth face coverings, especially in circumstances when physical distancing cannot be maintained."

That said, the guidance also outlines daunting procedures that it recommends schools adopt. Students' temperatures would need to be taken on arrival with "no-touch" thermometers, along with "visual wellness checks." Students and staff would need to be questioned about whether they have experienced Covid-19 symptoms, or if anyone in their household has, and they would need to be monitored throughout the day for signs of illness. Schools would need to be cleaned and disinfected daily, including door handles, sink handles, bathroom surfaces, drinking foundations, playground equipment and shared objects like toys, games and art supplies.

It encourages schools to introduce "fresh outdoor air as much as possible -- at the same time making sure that opening windows doesn't pose a safety or health risk by, for example, allowing pollens in or exacerbating asthma symptoms. It advises school districts to check water systems that have been shut down for a long time to minimize the risk of Legionnaires' disease and other water-related diseases.

The guidance, at least in its draft form, ducks the issue of what to do about school sports and extracurricular activities. It does say that schools should limit gatherings to those where physical distancing is possible along with "proper hand hygiene. Further advice on those issues "is forthcoming," according to the document.

-- Story by Louis Freedberg of EdSource. To read the article in its original presentation, visit the EdSource website.

— Bay City News Service

Comments

Lance M
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 2, 2020 at 10:51 am
Lance M, Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 2, 2020 at 10:51 am
9 people like this

The guidance seems a bit backwards unless I have missed some information. I thought that masks generally protect others from as it limits the spread from the wearer but unless it is a properly fit surgical type mask it offers minimal protection.

If that is true, then it should be the students that wear masks and not the teacher as the teacher is locked in the same room all day where students (at the middle & high school level) move from room to room.

So if students aren't going to wear masks, why should the teachers?


Karl
Birdland
on Jun 2, 2020 at 10:57 am
Karl, Birdland
on Jun 2, 2020 at 10:57 am
3 people like this

PUSD better get online learning up and running - based on this the second wave is on the way......


Pleasanton Parent
Pleasanton Meadows
on Jun 2, 2020 at 11:04 am
Pleasanton Parent , Pleasanton Meadows
on Jun 2, 2020 at 11:04 am
11 people like this

Stop the fear mongering.

They should make them mandatory or not, optional will result in not being worn.

Perhaps mandatory in classroom, but not playgrounds?

More importantly will be the parents responsibility on monitoring health and not sending sick kids to school.

.....yeah yeah yeah asymptotic kids.

Control what we can people.

Get back to school and work.


Karl
Birdland
on Jun 2, 2020 at 11:33 am
Karl, Birdland
on Jun 2, 2020 at 11:33 am
5 people like this

Fear mongering?

I don't think so.

Realizing the truth of our situation?

Yes

Better to plan for worse case - despite all your denials of reality.


Karl
Birdland
on Jun 2, 2020 at 11:35 am
Karl, Birdland
on Jun 2, 2020 at 11:35 am
7 people like this

And Pleasanton Parent will be the first complaining about how her kids are getting adequately educated.


Karl
Birdland
on Jun 2, 2020 at 11:38 am
Karl, Birdland
on Jun 2, 2020 at 11:38 am
5 people like this

Sorry for the typo - "aren't" getting adequately educated


Pleasanton Parent
Pleasanton Meadows
on Jun 2, 2020 at 12:18 pm
Pleasanton Parent, Pleasanton Meadows
on Jun 2, 2020 at 12:18 pm
14 people like this

Karl,
Tell me - what's the truth of our situation? That 99.99% of the reported people with covid survive covid? And that more than likely the survival rate is even higher given the number of people that have contracted it and have never been tested? And when applied to school age population that number is even higher?

That increased accountability on personal health (i.e. not sending your kids to school with active symptoms), increased sanitization, some moderated form of social distancing in the classroom, won't help stop the spread?

So which "truth's" of our situation are you accepting in your rebuttal vs ignoring?

I'll fully accept that people are going to get sick - they have in the past, they will today, and they will in the future. But an ongoing "lockdown" is not a reality that is sustainable. Guess what, if you want people to get back to work to get the economy going and some resemblance of life as normal kids have to go back to school, physically, and safely.

Funny how the initial marketing was, "flatten the curve" which fully recognized that the area under the two curves was the same, but the duration of infection was much different - meant to match hospital capacity. That fully recognized a world where this virus continues to live but at a manageable rate. Now we've morphed to "stay home save lives".....whoa, when did that happen, and now "well, you can do X, Y, and Z....." in this county with a mask. You can do A,B,C,X,Y in this county without a mask, and you can do EFGH in this county without a mask, but you have to spin around three times, click your heals, ...... you get the point.


Jake Waters
Birdland
on Jun 5, 2020 at 8:46 am
Jake Waters, Birdland
on Jun 5, 2020 at 8:46 am
9 people like this

Einstein is attributed to the saying (whether he actually did or not isn’t important), “ Insanity Is Doing the Same Thing Over and Over Again and Expecting Different Results.” Well, we have reached it. It’s unknown how many people in this country have, are, and will continue to protest, demonstrate, loot, and run in the streets, but the majority are not wearing masks or social distancing. It unfortunately took these extreme actions to bring about the reality that Covid19 has run its political course.

Wearing a mask is being exposed more and more by the medical community as useless. Everyday on our bike rides we see people wearing these clothe masks (just a symbolic gesture), medical masks that are open and gathered on the cheeks, or that they have them pulled down below their nose or on their chin. Very chic.

No, it’s time to grab back our sense of control and sanity. The virus is showing unsystematic behavior by the very tests we administer. It is time to stop looking for the boogeyman at every turn and begin living our lives. Let’s get back to work, get back to school, start recovering our society, because something else will be on the horizon for those people that live in fear to return to your basements and hide in the dark.


Lance M
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 5, 2020 at 9:43 am
Lance M, Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 5, 2020 at 9:43 am
8 people like this

@Pleasanton Parent Please don't start off any conversation with made up facts because it negates everything you say.

The survival rate is definitely not 99.99% as you mysteriously reported. It is actually 89% worldwide for closed cases. In the US if you simply divide total number of deaths by total cases (people who test positive) you get 94.3% (5.7% mortality). As you state, many people have it but are not diagnosed. Taking that into account the research is putting the mortality rate at around 1.3% or 98.7% survival.

So yes, a conversation needs to be had and decisions need to be made about school. But we need to make those decision with facts and evidence, not made up numbers by people like you.

I do believe that at this point, the signs are looking positive that students will be able to return to schools in most places in august/fall. Obviously there are issue that need to be addressed especially in regards to vulnerable students and teachers (existing health issues or age) and students/teachers that live with people that are vulnerable.





Winkydink
Castlewood
on Jun 5, 2020 at 10:41 am
Winkydink, Castlewood
on Jun 5, 2020 at 10:41 am
5 people like this

Here's the deal : if you make it optional kids not wearing masks will make fun of the ones who wear a mask and kids wearing a mask will be terrified of those not wearing them. Come on man! Oh and let's not forget how the ones with hospital masks will feel when their schoolmates have the "cool" masks made especially for them.


Karl
Birdland
on Jun 5, 2020 at 1:23 pm
Karl, Birdland
on Jun 5, 2020 at 1:23 pm
4 people like this

I have now moved to “I don’t care” what happens to “your” in “your” schools.

You will get exactly what you deserve based what happens.

Good luck!


Karl
Birdland
on Jun 5, 2020 at 1:26 pm
Karl, Birdland
on Jun 5, 2020 at 1:26 pm
5 people like this

Sorry for the typo......”your” kids

And I will add do not come to me for any more of my money for “your” kids and “your” schools


Wombat
Downtown
on Jun 5, 2020 at 4:09 pm
Wombat, Downtown
on Jun 5, 2020 at 4:09 pm
2 people like this

@Lance M. wrote "Taking that into account the research is putting the mortality rate at around 1.3% or 98.7% survival."

The 1.3% mortality rate that you're stating is much higher than recent estimates. SF Gate had a recent article quoting the results of three studies (a Santa Clara study, a Los Angeles study, and a study based in Germany), and they were all giving mortality rate estimates somewhere around 0.35%, or about 3 to 4 times higher than the common flu.

There is also a recent USA Today article fact-checking a mortality rate claim for coronavirus. In the article, it states that the CDC's current "best estimate" for the morality rate is 0.26%. A Harvard epidemiologist mentioned in the article thinks that the mortality rate is closer to 0.4%. And another epidemiologist mentioned in the article thinks that the figure is around 0.5%.
USA Today article: Web Link

The bottom line is that coronavirus, while certainly more deadly than the common flu to seniors and those with significant pre-existing health conditions, is nowhere near as deadly as was first reported. Recent morality rate estimates are converging on a morality rate of around 0.26% to 0.5%, or about 2.5 to 5 times more deadly than the common flu. That's a far cry from the "20-times deadlier than the flu" claims that we were first hearing about coronavirus.


Pleasanton Parent
Pleasanton Meadows
on Jun 5, 2020 at 4:30 pm
Pleasanton Parent, Pleasanton Meadows
on Jun 5, 2020 at 4:30 pm
Like this comment

Karl,
While I don't agree with the schools latest bond proposal, I'm not ignorant to the fact that schools need money, that will inevitably come in the form of taxes, bonds, and donations.

While you don't directly benefit from the schools, your real state certainly does. So you don't have to donate, but you can't reap the benefits and not absorb some of the cost.

Don't like it? Take your transferable tax base and move to a county without parcel or bond taxes.


Karl
Birdland
on Jun 5, 2020 at 4:52 pm
Karl, Birdland
on Jun 5, 2020 at 4:52 pm
6 people like this

I believe using the schools as the reason for the increase in real estate is a false narrative.

I believe it has more to do with the no growth attitude of the state and the city.

I do not care what happens to you and your children as it relates to education and the impact Covid-19 has on your health.


Even 0.3% mortality means several dead in PUSD next year
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 7, 2020 at 11:03 pm
Even 0.3% mortality means several dead in PUSD next year, Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 7, 2020 at 11:03 pm
5 people like this

If you put everyone back in school without mandatory masks and distancing, nearly everyone will get COVID. That's exactly the path we were on until the March shelter-in-place order.

And if nearly everyone gets it, there will be some deaths at any realistic the mortality rate. Even 0.1% is 1 in 1000 and PUSD has around 15,000 students and a large faculty and staff count. The kids will be hit less often, but there are more of them. And COVID will kill a few of the older teachers and staff.

Now lets talk about the parents. Their kids will carry it home as asymptomatic spreaders. And COVID is highly contagious within a home setting. So a good fraction of the 30,000 parents will get sick, and we're looking at another group of deaths here.

In addition to the deaths there will be a much larger number who survive bad cases at high cost. With resulting long absences. Do staff have enough sick leave to cover a 5-week illness and 2-month recovery time? If those people are teachers, we might be talking about 1000 students needing long-term subs. And how many children will have their school year destroyed in that scenario, either by their own illness, or a teacher's - or a parent's?

I get that little kids can't be expected to wear masks and maintain distance. But then maybe those kids shouldn't be going to school in the usual way next fall. Because the people of this district need everyone capable of wearing a mask to do so before going to school.


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