The Alameda County Public Health Department (ACPHD) announced Wednesday that it will begin the process of accepting waivers to bring students in transitional kindergarten to 6th grade on campus for in-person learning at schools in Alameda County.
The Alameda County Office of Education will support that process by assisting with the intake and initial screening of applications from schools and districts that choose to apply.
All Alameda County TK-12 schools – public, private and charter – have been required to start the school year with distance learning based on public health metrics determined by the State of California. The state did allow, however, for counties to develop a waiver process to bring TK-6th grade students back on campus for in-person instruction. After monitoring public health conditions in Alameda County over several weeks, ACPHD and ACOE worked closely together to develop the application and review process released recently.
As part of the application process, schools and districts must share a return-to-school plan that is aligned with guidance from the California Department of Public Health and ACPHD. Applicants must include information on how they plan to implement required protocols, including health and hygiene, use of face coverings, physical distancing, and limiting gathering, and conduct COVID-19 contact tracing and testing. They must also share which labor, parent, and community groups they consulted in the reopening process.
ACOE will initially screen the waiver applications and then send them to Alameda County Public Health for review and approval. If approved, they will be submitted to the California Department of Public Health for review. We expect the process to take several weeks from start to completion.
“We know that distance learning presents a challenging environment for students, families and schools, and for some, this waiver is a viable option for bringing students back to classrooms,” said Alameda County Superintendent of Schools L. Karen Monroe. “We know that the majority of schools across the state that have applied for waivers are independent schools. Schools that explore the waiver option in order to bring back students must be thoughtful and effective in implementing the protocols that will help to create a healthy and safe learning environment for students and staff.”
The application and instructions can be found at covid-19.acgov.org/schools.page.