SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Public Health on Tuesday released guidance on youth sports and detailed the process for elementary schools to request a waiver to resume in-person instruction in counties on the state monitoring list, including Los Angeles.
L.A. County’s current case rate is too high to qualify for a waiver, however, so the county “will not be considering waiver applications at this point in time,” county Public Health officials said in a separate statement Tuesday afternoon.
“COVID-19 continues to spread in California, and to help slow transmission we must focus on basic public health guidelines to protect our families, our communities, and our students from the virus,” said Dr. Sonia Angell, State Public Health Officer and director of the California Department of Public Health.
“Today’s guidance ensures that critical public health measures are in place to reduce risk in a number of educational and youth settings,” Angell said.
The guidance for youth sports establishes a consistent set of rules that apply to all youth sports programs — including school-based, club, and recreational programs.
Outdoor and indoor sporting events, assemblies, and other activities that require close contact or that would promote congregating, such as tournaments and competitions, are not permitted at this time.
Youth sports and physical education are permitted only when physical distancing of at least six feet and a stable cohort of participants, such as a class, can be maintained. Activities should take place outside to the maximum extent possible.
More information can be found in the youth sports guidance document later in this story.
Waiver Process for Elementary Schools to Resume In-Person Instruction
On July 17, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that schools in counties that have been on the County Data Monitoring list within the prior 14 days are only allowed to conduct distance learning.
Newsom also noted there would be a waiver process that could allow some elementary schools in those counties to conduct in-person learning if they could meet stringent health requirements.
State health officials noted recent scientific data showing that young children were far less likely to shed and transmit the virus.
The California Department of Public Health released that waiver process Tuesday.
A district superintendent, private school principal or head of school, or executive director of a charter school may apply for a waiver from the local health officer to open an elementary school for in-person instruction in a county on the monitoring list.
This waiver is applicable only for grades TK-6, even if the grade configuration at the school includes additional grades. The application for a waiver must include an attestation that the applicant consulted with parent, labor, and community organizations at each school site for which an application is being submitted.
The application must also include confirmation that the elementary school reopening plans have been published on the website of the local educational agency (or private school).
Reopening plans must address, at a minimum, plans for cleaning and disinfection, cohorting, movement within school, face coverings and protective equipment, health screenings, healthy hygiene practices, contact tracing, physical distancing, staff training and family education, testing, communication plans and triggers for switching to distance learning.
Upon receipt of a waiver application, the local health officer should review and consider the following:
* Available scientific evidence regarding COVID-related risks in schools serving elementary-age students, along with the health-related risks for children who are not provided in-person instruction.
* Whether elementary in-person instruction can be provided in small, stable cohorts.
* Local health guidance, safety plans, availability of appropriate PPE, and availability of public health and school resources for COVID-19 investigation and response.
* Local epidemiological data.
* Local conditions or data contributing to inclusion on the County Data Monitoring list.
* Availability of testing resources.
* The extent to which the applicant has consulted with staff, labor organizations, community, and parent organizations.
Following review, the local health officer should consult with CDPH regarding the determination whether to grant or deny the waiver application.
Local health officers may conditionally grant an application with limits on the number of elementary schools allowed to re-open or allow re-opening in phases to monitor for any impact on the community.
More information on the waiver process is available on the CDPH website:
L.A. County Will Adhere to New State Guidance
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health will adhere to new guidance from the California Department of Public Health, according to a statement Monday afternoon.
The guidance recommends that counties with case rates at or above 200 cases per 100,000 residents do not extend waivers for the re-opening of classroom instruction for students in grades TK-6.
L.A. County’s case rate currently is 355 per 100,000, so county officials will not be considering waiver applications at this point in time.
Here’s more from L.A. County Public Health’s statement:
“We know that to many families, this is a disappointing announcement, but it’s based on the existing science and data that is guiding all of our decision-making. We need to ensure the health and safety of our children, school teachers and staff and all of their families.
“This decision will be reconsidered once the case rate falls to the levels recommended by the State.
“The Department of Public Health will continue to work with all of our partners across the County to implement the infection control strategies we know effectively reduce community transmission and case rates so that schools can re-open for in-person instruction as soon as the data and science tell us it’s safe to do so.
“While all schools, public and private, across the County are closed for in-person instruction of students, teachers, staff and administrators are allowed to return to school buildings provided adults adhere to existing protocols that require physical distancing and infection control measures, including wearing face coverings.”
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