SDUSD To Adopt New COVID-19 Health Standards

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African American girls students sitting at the table preparing for exam or making homework together, wearing surgical masks. (Adobe Stock)

New Standards Focus on Masks, Proper Ventilation, Strict Social Distancing, and Critical Classroom Protections

Voice & Viewpoint Newswire

The San Diego Unified School District recently reported that it will adopt strict new standards to protect students, staff and the community from the spread of COVID-19. The measures are being adopted and developed in consultation with top experts on multiple aspects of the pandemic from the University of California, San Diego. As a result, conditions for reopening local schools will be stricter than state standards, will proceed in phases, and will require critical protective measures including mandatory masks, proper ventilation, and strict social distancing according to district leaders.

State standards for reopening schools already require a seven-day testing positivity rate of less than 8 percent and other factors, but the expert panel convened by San Diego Unified called for adding contact tracing metrics and other factors included in the County of San Diego health triggers. Before in-person schools can resume, strict safety protocols must also be in place.

The San Diego Unified health and safety standards eliminated some of the confusing and contradictory language regarding masks and social distancing in guidance produced by other agencies. Masks will be required for all students and staff on San Diego Unified campuses.

Superintendent Cindy Marten said schools will be ready to reopen when conditions in the community allow them to do so. She announced the purchase of more than $11 million in personal protective equipment (PPE) and said the district has received some 200,000 masks in child and adult sizes from the state, along with 14,000 bottles of hand sanitizer. All schools, Marten said, will follow the strict standards for reopening advised by the UCSD experts. The new health and safety guidelines on a morning call with principals from across San Diego Unified.

“The fact our country has just passed another grim milestone in the history of this disease – more than 5 million confirmed cases, makes it clear this is not yet the right time to begin a phased reopening, but our schools will be ready when that time comes,” Marten said.

“The scientific community has made it clear there are no shortcuts on the road to safely reopening schools. We have a long road ahead of us, but we’re doing the right things to keep everyone safe,” said President of the San Diego Education Association (SDEA) Kisha Bordensaid. The San Diego Unified Council of PTAs also backed the science-based approach. 

SDUSD Conditions For Full Reopening (as of 8/10/2020):

State Criteria

  *   14-day case rate of <100/100,000; Measured using date of illness onset with a 3-day lag County = calculated with County of San Diego data State

  *   Testing positivity rate of <8% of positive tests as a percent of total tests, measured using specimen collection date in a 7-day period with a 7-day lag

  *   Less than 10% increase in the average number of confirmed COVID-19 patients hospitalized

  *   Availability of >20% of staffed ICU beds and of >25% of ventilators

Additional (primarily County) criteria

  *   Fewer than 7 outbreaks over a 7-day period

  *   More than 70% of investigations are initiated within 24 hours of notification of a positive case (also over a 7-day period)

  *   Contact tracers make a first contact attempt for more than 70% of close contacts of new positive cases within 24 hours of identification

  *   Community Outbreaks: Fewer than seven new outbreaks in community settings in a 7-day period

  *   Downward trajectory of influenza-like illnesses and COVID-like illness reported within a 14-day period

  *   Hospital Capacity: Less than 80% capacity for all hospital beds in the county

  *   PPE Supply: more than 50% of hospitals have at least a 22-day supply of PPE

  *   Homeless Population: Temporary shelter available for more than 15% of homeless population

School Infrastructure and Supplies

  *   All adults and children in school buildings wear a face covering or mask, unless eating, or the person is alone in a room

  *   Face shields, disposable gloves and gowns provided for those who have anticipated contact with stool, urine, saliva, blood of students

  *   For health office staff who are assessing and managing with students with symptoms, they will be given surgical-style masks and face shields (and with fit-tested N95 masks, as available in community), as per Cal-OSHA regulations

  *   Rooms that do not have good natural ventilation and no MERV 13 filter in the HVAC system equipped with portable air cleaners, with proper ‘clean air delivery rate’ (CADR)

  *   All public spaces reconfigured to allow for physical distancing measures, including appropriate signage and barriers as needed

  *   Isolation areas for students, staff with symptoms to await ride home

  *   Restrooms marked outside of entry for the maximum number of users

  *   Ample supplies of disinfectant to provide for daily cleaning of handrails on stairs, ramps, and all items in classrooms and touchable objects throughout

  *   Ample supplies of hand sanitizers, sinks and/or handwashing stations placed strategically on campus and administrative buildings

  *   Training materials tailored for parents, staff and students on safety protocols

  *   No-touch thermometers for screening


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