Sacramento City Unified Board of Education Votes to Remove Masking Requirement if Metrics on Low Community Spread of COVID-19 Are Met for Four Consecutive Weeks
SCUSD Board to review future enforcement of COVID-19 vaccine requirement for students after 2021-22 school year
Sacramento, CA - At a Special Meeting of the Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD) Board of Education, the Board adopted a policy to use health metrics to guide decisions on the district’s masking requirement.
This action was taken after the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued new masking guidelines for schools. The new state guidance, which will take effect March 12, 2022, shifted from requiring masks in all school settings to strongly recommending use of masks at schools. The state guidance does not supersede districts’ authority or responsibility to implement masking rules based on local public health data.
The new SCUSD masking policy states:
- When Sacramento County falls to the “low community level” per Center for Disease Control (CDC) category, and remains there for four consecutive weeks, SCUSD will align with the CDPH guidance to strongly recommend masking, but not require masks to be worn in school settings. Until that category is met, SCUSD’s mask requirement remains in effect for all staff, students and visitors.
- A return to the “high” community COVID level per CDC metrics would trigger a required return to indoor masking. SCUSD would also consider resuming the masking requirement if Sacramento County entered “medium” community level depending on global/national/local trends.
- SCUSD’s masking requirement would also resume if state or local public health officials issue a future order for school masking.
The earliest that Sacramento County could move into the CDC’s “low community level” tier would be March 10. If that were to happen, and Sacramento County remains in the “low community tier for four weeks, ending on April 7, SCUSD will align with the State of California’s strong recommendation for masking effective Monday, April 18 (upon return from the Spring Break).
Other COVID mitigation measures detailed in the district’s Return to Health plan will remain in effect throughout the school year, including:
- Making COVID testing available at all school sites so that anyone with symptoms, or anyone exposed to someone who tests positive can get tested, and ongoing surveillance testing will continue;
- Distributing At-Home COVID tests before Spring Break, so students and staff can test before returning to school, with surveillance testing resuming as soon as we return.
- Making masks widely available in school and district spaces;
- Following “stay home when sick” and “return to school” protocols based on recommendations from health experts;
- Hosting vaccination and booster clinics to increase vaccination rates throughout the community;
- Enhanced ventilation in classrooms and other school facilities.
“SCUSD understands the deep impact the COVID pandemic has had on the mental health and well-being for many students, staff and community members, and that many people have strong feelings regarding masking,” said Jorge A. Aguilar, Superintendent, Sacramento City Unified School District. “Our district will continue to offer high-filtration masks for those who choose to continue masking, and also stock a large inventory of masks so that we are readily prepared if ever needing to widely distribute masks in the future.”
“The layered COVID mitigation efforts implemented in our schools, including masks, have contributed to keeping students and staff healthy so our schools could stay open,” said Christina Pritchett, Board President, Sacramento City Unified School District Board of Education. “It is encouraging that COVID transmission rates appear to be declining. The ongoing COVID mitigation efforts implemented at our school sites will help this trend to continue.”
SCUSD is taking proactive steps to provide Social Emotional Learning (SEL) support for our school community through these transitions, including expanding student support staff, school social workers, school counselors, school psychologists and school nurses.
At the Special Board Meeting, the Board also voted to review the enforcement of the District’s student vaccination requirement after the 2021-22 school year in June. 93.82% of students have already met SCUSD’s requirement to vaccinate or agree to routine COVID testing. The district does not have staffing capacity to enroll the remaining 2,330 students that have not been vaccinated or agreed to routine COVID-19 testing into independent study.
As of March 8, over 99% of district staff members have met the District’s vaccination requirement for staff by submitting their vaccination status or an approved exemption. SCUSD remains hopeful that 100% of employees will meet this requirement before March 11 when employees that have not submitted their vaccination status or approved exemption will be drafted letters that they will be placed on unpaid leave starting March 14. Leading up to this date, district staff will continue to reach out to the remaining 36 employees that have not yet met the district’s vaccination requirement for staff.
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