Alameda County public health officials announced Thursday that elementary schools with a COVID-19 health and safety plan in place will be able to reopen Oct. 13, but it may be longer until Tri-Valley schools decide to do so.
Pleasanton Unified School District spokesman Patrick Gannon told the Weekly, "We're still focused on the work in meeting the requirements" but there are no plans at this time to reopen Pleasanton schools for general education.
"We want to focus on ensuring the health and well-being of our community rather than a specific date, which seems unreasonable given the requirements set forth by the state and county," Gannon said.
In addition to schools, the Alameda County Public Health Department announcement confirmed reopening timelines for other indoor operations, including more personal care services, libraries, museums and fitness centers effective Oct. 9 -- with protocols in place, including reduced capacity.
School districts in the county would need to meet certain requirements to reopen classrooms for students in transitional kindergarten through sixth grade, including staff testing and maintaining physical distance, and also submit their plan to the Alameda County Office of Education.
"We know it is hardest for younger children to spend all day learning online," ACPHD officials said in a statement. "Returning elementary students to classrooms balances the potential risk of increased COVID-19 transmission with the impact of distance learning on both students’ mental health and their ability to learn."
The county also "will consider permitting middle and high school students to return to in-person education in four to twelve-week phases as local disease conditions allow," ACPHD said, adding, "This phased approach will allow us to gauge the impact of elementary school reopening on transmission."
The county moved to the red tier of the state's COVID-19 case monitoring list last week, but "the decision and timing of when to open rests with each school and school district, and schools are not required to open if not ready," officials said.
Gannon said, "We spoke about some obstacles we're facing in meeting the requirements for reopening in our last board meeting. We're focused on finding solutions for those until we receive additional guidance from the county or state."
A pilot program for supervised learning is in the works by PUSD staff but will be limited to small cohorts, including English learners and special education students. Some challenges to reopening mentioned at the PUSD Board of Trustees meeting on Sept. 24 concerned the classroom ventilation systems and having adequate air intake and filters, as well as staff testing and health screenings, among others.
Dublin Unified School District Interim Superintendent Daniel Moirao said students will not return to classrooms on Oct. 13
"We must be confident we have met all state and county regulations (which change on a regular basis) and as a result, are providing the safest possible environment for students and staff before we open our doors to Phase II -- The Hybrid Model of our Road to Reopening plan," Moirao said.
"There are items on our task list that must be completed before we can announce our official dates or timeframes," he added. "While we negotiated many of them during the summer for this period of time, many new requirements have been identified that must be implemented before we are certified to open."
Livermore Valley Jointed Unified School District said Monday, "Our Reopening Task Force is actively working on the logistics of phasing in the return of in-person learning in a hybrid format, with the dual goal of safeguarding the health of our students and staff while ensuring excellent education."
Officials said they will continue providing weekly updates on LVJUSD's reopening progress and planning status.
Schools planning to reopen must also notify ACPHD and provide a website link to their reopening plan. ACPHD will also continue supporting school districts with guidance on reopening plans, testing strategies, finding qualified testing supplies, labs and vendors, and more.
County health officials also announced that these additional activities will be permitted again in Alameda County, starting Oct. 9:
* Hotels and lodging for tourism (fitness centers and indoor pools restricted).
* Museums, zoos and aquariums (indoors with 25% capacity or less).
* Personal care services (indoor business with modifications; services requiring removal of face covering prohibited).
* Libraries (25% capacity or less).
* Gyms and fitness centers (indoors with 10% capacity or less; restrictions on aerobic exercise and classes).
* Outdoor film production (per local guidance).
Expanded indoor retail and shopping centers, and indoor worship services, outdoor card rooms and satellite wagering, and limited indoor dining and movie theaters in Alameda County are also under consideration in the next four to six weeks, as data trends permit, according to ACPHD.
A full list of activities that are currently open and not open in Alameda County is available at covid-19.acgov.org/.