Update on keeping Sac City Unified Schools open during COVID-19 surge

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Update on keeping Sac City Unified Schools open during COVID-19 surgeUpdate on keeping Sac City Unified Schools open during COVID-19 surge

Dear Sac City Unified Families:

Following winter break our district has experienced an increase in staff and student absences due to the current COVID surge. As you might have heard, positive COVID-19 cases are increasing across Sacramento County, as reflected in the Sacramento County Public Health COVID-19 Dashboard. The current case rate is 101.2 per 100,000 residents and the County positivity rate last week was 16%.  As cases spread across our county and state, we see the impact reflected within our school communities as well.

Like districts across the state, staffing shortages such as substitute teacher coverage has impacted our work. Despite the challenges we are currently facing, in accordance with state law and commitments by California State Parent Teacher Association; California Teachers Association; California Federation of Teachers; California School Employees Association; SEIU California; Association of California School Administrators; California County Superintendents Educational Services Association; California School Boards Association; and California Charter Schools Association, Sac City Unified is striving to remain open for safe, in-person learning at all school sites. 

We acknowledge that the challenge to address staffing needs is real. For example, last Friday, there were 586 staff absences, which translates to a 21.2% absentee rate. Given the shortage of substitutes, we were able to cover just over half of those absences with substitute teachers. This past week we recorded 307 staff and 1,282 student unduplicated positive cases, for a total of 1,589 positive cases. Health Services staff are working at maximum capacity to identify those positive cases that were physically present at school or work, and provide exposure notifications and guidance to our community members.  While student attendance has dropped due to quarantine protocols and other factors, most COVID models show that our challenges will continue over the next several weeks and we expect similar staffing challenges. 

Our district and school site leaders are working hard to manage staffing shortages as they arise while keeping our students and staff safe through our health and safety protocols, and providing an equitable learning environment for all students. In some instances, this means that principals, district central office staff with teaching credentials, and other appropriately credentialed site-level administrators will work in classrooms to cover teacher absences. Our district is also working to identify and advocate for strategies that will increase the pool of substitute teachers who can help address short term staffing needs at our school sites. 

While the risk of exposure to COVID-19 remains a concern everywhere in our region, our schools are a safe haven for many of our students. With the health and safety protocols that our school sites are following to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, schools can be one of the safest places for students to be even when COVID is surging in our broader community.

However, we are reiterating our request that students and staff with symptoms, those who have tested positive for COVID 19, or those who have been exposed to someone who has tested positive, stay home following the guidelines recommended by Sacramento Public Health. Please know that our school leaders will do their best to work with teachers so that students who must stay home due to illness, quarantine, or because of family concern about exposure to COVID can stay current with lessons covered in classrooms. 

The current COVID surge underscores the importance of getting vaccinated. Children ages five and up are eligible to get the vaccine, and children ages 12+ are now eligible for a booster dose if they are at least five months past their second dose. Public health officials strongly advise getting a booster dose now if you are eligible.  Sac City Unified will continue to host COVID-19 vaccination clinics for anyone age 5 and up, including students, staff, families, and the broader community. Upcoming clinics will provide first, second and booster doses and will be held at the following times and locations:

  • Thursday, January 13 from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Earl Warren Elementary, located at 5420 Lowell Street in Sacramento. 
  • Friday, January 14, 21, and 28 from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Serna Center, located at 5735 47th Street in Sacramento.

Sac City Unified also continues to offer COVID testing at all school sites every Monday through Friday in school site care rooms, routine surveillance testing at all of our school locations, and at the following locations and times: 

  • Serna Center, 5735 47th Ave., from 12:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
  • Albert Einstein Middle School, 9325 Mirandy Dr., from 3:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

In partnership with the Sacramento County Department of Public Health and the Sacramento County Office of Education, we will continue to monitor this fluid situation in Sacramento County, and will keep Sac City Unified families apprised of any potential changes to school schedules.  

In the meantime, please know that we are working diligently to serve our students and families and will continue to problem-solve in order to get through this latest COVID wave.  We ask for continued grace in the face of ever-changing conditions from this unprecedented pandemic and encourage you to reach out to us with questions and concerns.