California Changes Direction, Urges Schools To Stay Open Amid COVID Rises

The health department recently released updated California COVID guidance reports for schools, urging schools to stay open.

By Erika Hanson | Published

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California covid guidance

The state of California is well-known for keeping schools closed for extended periods of time during the COVID pandemic. The west coast was one of the first hit places in the United States with confirmed cases of the virus, and major cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco were hit hard. For a long time, the state took a strict stance on California COVID guidance for school closures, much like other Democratic states. But now in newly released measures, the state has changed paces and is urging schools to remain open even during breakouts. 

As the 2022-2023 quickly approaches for many school districts in the nation, health departments are also working diligently to revamp procedures for schools and health-related concerns. California just released COVID guidance for schools, and a major focus was on keeping schools open for the fourth year of the COVID virus. Overall, the department of public health iterated that school closures should be a “last resort.”

As the 2021-2022 school year came to an end, more research and data came out depicting how crucial in-person learning was for the majority of students, and especially for minorities and impoverished students. The updated California COVID guidance even made note of this in their updated policy, calling it “critical” to student development. But even with the health department shifting gears and recommending schools remain open, they are still acting out of an abundance of caution and calling on districts to increase safety precautions to mitigate the spread of the virus. 

Within the California COVID guidance outlined in a report by K12 Dive, the health department suggested that schools use antigen tests to detect COVID outbreaks, instead of PCR tests since they can give results at a much faster rate. Likewise, the report urged schools to test students and staff returning from extended school breaks, or vacations. And as usual, they stated that anyone who tests positive should remain at home for five days, and when they return to school should mask up for another five days as well. 

Still, while the department of health called upon schools to remain open in the California school COVID guidance report, it did make note that in extreme instances, schools may have no other choice than to close, if the virus spreads to a certain extent within a school. First and foremost, schools should exhaust all other options when deterring the spread of the virus. Furthermore, the health department conveyed that schools should only shut down after first consulting with local health department officials first. 

Similarly, the California COVID guidance report calls on schools to urge all eligible students and staff to get vaccinated against COVID. California lawmakers have approved a measure to mandate that all eligible schoolchildren get the vaccination, however, the law has been pushed back to another school year for various reasons. Likewise, under provisions, it will remain quite simple for many families to opt their child out of the requirement. 

California covid guidance

While the health department is finally suggesting that schools remain open for the fourth year that the contagious virus has disrupted schools, the remainder of the updated California COVID guidance measures look to remain as standard procedures, in line with most other states, including Republican-controlled ones where mandates have been known to be more lenient. Going into this school year, another new strand of the virus is raging through the nation, at an even more contagious rate than previous ones, and leaving some weary heading into the new school year. But with it now well recognized that keeping schools open is vital to the well-being of students, the hope is that school closures will be a thing of the past.