Santa Rosa, CA – March 12, 2021 – The County of Sonoma and Sonoma County Office of Education today announced that all schools serving grade levels from transitional kindergarten to grade 12 are eligible to reopen for in-person instruction based on Sonoma County meeting the criteria for the less restrictive red tier under California's Blueprint for a Safer Economy. This is the first time that the county has moved out of the most restrictive purple tier since the opening of school in August.
While schools do not need to have a COVID-19 Safety Plan (CSP) approved by State and local health officials when a county is in the red tier, a CSP is still required to be posted on school website homepages for five days prior to a school reopening.
Before reopening, schools must have a range of strict safety measures in place, and consult staff, parents and community organizations. Many schools may reopen at first in a hybrid model, as social distancing requirements limit the number of students who can fit in a given classroom. Other schools with smaller student populations and larger classrooms may be able to bring all students back at once. The state has also advised that schools phase in their reopening with a few grades at a time, so many schools may follow this model. This will help ensure that safety protocols are working before bringing back a larger group of students.
"Sonoma County students, teachers, and their families are taking a step forward today," said Supervisor Lynda Hopkins, Chair of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. "This doesn't mean we can let up on our prevention and precaution, but it's a hopeful milestone on the path of this pandemic."
"I want to thank the many school employees, students, and parents/guardians who have had to be extremely flexible and adaptable during these challenging times," said Steve Herrington, Sonoma County Superintendent of Schools. "The state's criteria for school reopening has always been designed around the health and safety of the total school community. I am grateful and appreciative of everyone's efforts in helping get Sonoma County into the red tier so that more schools can reopen."
Schools may reopen, or begin a phase-in reopening, for all grades (TK-12) while the county is in the red, or less restrictive tiers. Beginning Sunday, March 14, 2021, schools have a three-week window to reopen or begin a phase-in reopening to facilitate a calm and safe return to classrooms. Once reopened, schools may continue to operate even if the county reverts into the purple tier.
Schools are required to adhere to the California Department of Public Health's COVID-19 and Reopening In-Person Instruction Framework. Modifications for campus instruction include creating stable groups of students that stay together and do not mix, implementing distancing inside and outside the classroom, ensuring sufficient ventilation, promoting health hygiene, cleaning and disinfecting, screening for symptoms and exposure, and instituting measures to be taken in the case of a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19.
The latest information about each school/district's reopening plans can be found in a series of interactive maps at schools.covid19.ca.gov. Schools/districts update this information once every two weeks.
For the latest information about COVID-19 in Sonoma County, including testing and vaccination sites, please call 2-1-1, text your zip code to 898-211, or visit SoCoEmergency.org.
Sonoma County Office of Education
Jamie Hansen, Director of Communications