With debate continuing to rage locally and statewide about reopening schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic, California health officials Friday released an interactive map to track the status of school reopenings.
The Safe Schools Reopening Map provides data on the status of reopening and safety planning for school districts, charter and private schools across California. Officials hope it will help communities and school staff evaluate their own reopening plans.
Schools will update their information every two weeks, and the California Department of Public Health will add data on reported outbreaks in each school district and information about whether schools have partnered with the Valencia Branch Lab for COVID-19 testing.
“As COVID-19 conditions continue to improve and vaccinations ramp up throughout the state, this map will provide local communities with accessible, up-to-date information on how districts in their communities and beyond are adapting to the pandemic, including safety planning and implementation,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom. “This map is one of many resources we have made available that will help school staff and families make informed decisions as we safely reopen our schools.”
The map was created through a partnership between the state, county office of education and the California Collaborative in Education Excellence. It can be accessed at maps.schools.covid19.ca.gov/public.html.
Newsom has said he is nearing an agreement with state legislators on his proposed $6.6 billion plan to expediting the reopening of school campuses, with sweeping safety measures, limits on numbers of students in classrooms and provision of protective equipment.
But officials from several of the state’s largest school districts have balked at the governor’s plan, saying it falls short on funding for urban school districts.
On Friday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released what it calls a roadmap of guidelines for the reopening of school campuses. The document urges local health officials to give “high priority to teachers in early phases of vaccine distribution,” but it says vaccines are not required for in-person learning.
“Vaccinating teachers and school staff can be considered one layer of mitigation and protection for staff and students,” according to the CDC document. “Strategies to minimize barriers to accessing vaccination for teachers and other frontline essential workers, such as vaccine clinics at or close to the place of work, are optimal. Access to vaccination should not be considered a condition for reopening schools for in-person instruction.”
Current state guidelines allow the reopening of school campuses for pre-kindergarten through sixth grade when a county’s COVID-19 average rate of new cases drops to 25 per 100,000 residents. The rate in San Diego County is currently 34.
The San Diego Unified School District has said it is ready to fully reopen as soon as declining case rates and increased vaccinations make it safe to do so. Vaccinations of teachers are expected to begin within two to three weeks in San Diego County.
City News Service contributed to this article.