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Information about updated CDPH Guidance for 2021-2022 school year

Dear Los Alamitos Unified School District Staff, Families and Community,

I hope this message finds you and your loved ones well, healthy and enjoying the summer season. Last week, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) released updated COVID-19 public health guidance for K-12 schools. As a reminder, COVID-19 health guidance is set by state and county health officials, and all public, private and charter schools/school districts are required to follow the guidance in order to operate for in-person instruction.

At this time, we continue to review the new guidance and seek further clarification in some areas to determine how it will impact the 2021-22 school year beginning on Monday, August 16 for all schools except Weaver Elementary which begins on Wednesday, August 4. Last night, we presented a Preliminary Update on the newly released CDPH Guidance for K-12 Schools at our Board of Education Meeting. You can view the presentation and discussion on our Los Al YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_BdrUltAPE(presentation is from 1:39:00 to 2:32:00).

Below are some key pieces of information included in CDPH’s updated guidance for all schools and school districts across the state, including private and charter schools:

  • California no longer requires face masks in ANY outdoor settings. Masks are optional outdoors for all individuals in K-12 school settings (traveling to and from classes when outdoors, during recess, nutrition breaks, lunches, outdoor PE, etc.).
  • California requires face masks be worn by students and adults indoors in school settings when in the presence of students.
  • Consistent with CDPH guidance from the 2020-2021 school year, districts must develop and implement local protocols to enforce the mask requirements. Students who do not comply with universal mask wearing guidance may be placed in an alternative learning setting.
  • Persons exempted from wearing a face covering due to a medical condition, must wear a non-restrictive alternative, such as a face shield with a drape on the bottom edge, as long as their condition permits it.
  • Physical distancing is no longer required as a result of universal masking requirements.
  • The guidance no longer mentions or suggest the use of desk shields or barriers as a mitigation to physical distancing.
  • As part of the effort to keep students in school to the greatest extent possible, CDPH lessened some quarantine requirements for unvaccinated individuals.
  • Continuing mitigation strategies like ventilation, handwashing and respiratory etiquette, staying home when sick and getting tested, contact tracing in combination with quarantine and isolation, and cleaning and disinfection remain critical layers of prevention to keep schools safe.
  • CDPH stated they will continue to assess conditions on an ongoing basis and will determine no later than November 1, 2021, whether to update mask requirements or recommendations.

This new information clarifies some of the state-level requirements, which will help us continue to prepare for the return of students. Our team has been hard at work crafting plans for the 2021-2022 school year that keep the health, safety, and well-being of students, staff, and families at the forefront.
Our plan for a full-day, traditional in-person instructional model at all schools remains the same for the upcoming school year. We will resume a traditional, full-time, on-campus learning model, while continuing to follow the mandated guidance as set forth by CDPH and the Orange County Health Care Agency (OCHCA).

OCHCA and OCDE released a statement last week stating that OCHCA, OCDE, local schools boards, districts or schools (private, public or charter) may not implement policies that are less restrictive than the mandates required by CDPH which are enforceable under the California Emergency Services Act. We are grateful for your understanding that our school board and district administration are not permitted to lessen the mandated requirements we are under from the CDPH. If you have any questions or comments about this guidance for CDPH, please feel free to contact them directly at www.cdph.ca.gov/Pages/contact_us.aspx.

Los Alamitos USD will continue to collaborate with the OCHCA, the Orange County Department of Education (OCDE), and other Orange County school districts to better understand how these guidelines will impact public, private and charter K-12 schools and district operations for the 2021-22 school year. We will provide further updates and provide additional information as it becomes available.

In the meantime, I pray the summer provides rejuvenation for all of you. Wishing you and your family a restful, relaxing, and fun reaming summer break. Be well and take care of your loved ones.

This article was written by Andrew Pulver, Ed.D., Superintendent of the Los Alamitos Unified School District.