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Local schools may be allowed to broadly reopen in as soon as two weeks, as the state has downgraded the COVID-19 risk level in Santa Clara County.
The state today (Sept. 8) moved the county into the “red,” or “substantial,” risk tier, an improvement from the “purple,” or “widespread,” tier the county was in before.
Schools can reopen for in-person instruction if the county stays in the red tier for 14 consecutive days. On the flip side, if conditions worsen for two consecutive weeks, the county moves back into the more restrictive tier, where in-person schooling is prohibited.
“Especially in the context of the significant volume of activity that the opening of schools may bring, it’s all the more important that we remain really vigilant and on top of trying to keep the case counts here locally as low as possible,” County Counsel James Williams said at a press conference today.
If the county stays in the red tier for 14 days, K-12 schools will be able to bring students back to campus. They will still need to follow rules set by the county and state public health departments, including symptom checks for all students and staff and mandatory mask-wearing in the classroom for teachers and students in third grade and above, subject to limited exemptions.
Up until now, schools haven’t been allowed reopen for in-person classes and have instead been operating virtually. The one exception has been that elementary schools can apply for waivers from the county to bring students back.
Pinewood School in Los Altos was granted a waiver Monday (Sept. 7) and plans to reopen beginning Sept. 21. School president Scott Riches declined a request for an interview but said in a statement that the school is “grateful that we have the opportunity to resume in-person instruction” after successfully meeting the county’s “very strict guidelines and extensive waiver process.”
The Los Altos School District and Bullis Charter School also have both submitted waiver applications, along with a number of local private schools.
The county will continue to review and approve waivers over the next two weeks, Williams said. If the county remains in the red tier for 14 days, schools will be allowed to reopen without a waiver.