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Santa Clara, San Mateo counties start granting waivers to schools and districts

Santa Clara County is currently reviewing 61 waiver applications

Preschool students Genesis Arteaga Callejas, center, and Anna Herrera Saldana, right, play on the seesaw during recess at The Primary School in East Palo Alto on Dec. 12, 2018. Photo by Veronica Weber.

Fourteen elementary schools in San Mateo County and two schools and three public districts in Santa Clara County have been approved to reopen for in-person instruction, some as soon as next week.

Some schools in Santa Clara County that have been given the green light to reopen are only allowed to offer face-to-face instruction to specific students, such as students with disabilities. Creekside School in San Jose, which serves students with moderate to severe autism, is on the list of approved waivers. Some of the schools approved in San Mateo County also specifically serve students with disabilities.

The Campbell Union School District, however, is allowed to fully reopen for students from transitional kindergarten through sixth grade. The district serves preschool through eighth grade students.

Santa Clara County is currently reviewing 61 waiver applications, according to an online list. The applications come mostly from individual private schools but also one public school district: the Los Altos School District. The district hopes to start by providing in-person instruction for special education and other disadvantaged students and later ramp up to transitional kindergarten to third grade.

The Primary School in East Palo Alto, Synapse School in Menlo Park and Connect Community Charter School in Redwood City are now allowed to reopen their classrooms, according to a list of approved waiver applications in San Mateo County.

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As of Tuesday, Sept. 1, the San Mateo County Office of Education had received just over 20 waiver applications, said Patricia Love, executive director of strategy and communications. The office is initially reviewing the applications and then sending them to San Mateo County Health and the California Department of Public Health for review and approval.

Officials in both Santa Clara and San Mateo counties have urged elementary schools to apply for the waivers.

"I encourage schools to explore the waiver option in order to get children in the early elementary grades on campus," San Mateo County Superintendent of Schools Nancy Magee said in a press release announcing the county's waiver process. "In-person instruction is particularly valuable to younger students whose foundational literacy and numeracy skills are paramount to long-term academic success."

The applications require schools to detail their reopening plans, including how students will be kept in small, stable groups; how classrooms and activities will be laid out to allow for physical distancing; and plans for screening, contract tracing and potential school closure if needed. Schools also must document the labor, parent and community groups that they consulted with in applying for a waiver.

The private Primary School, which serves more than 300 students in preschool through third grade, was "excited" to receive the waiver but has not yet set a reopening date, said Alison Kjeldgaard, the school's senior manager of communications and external relations.

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"We will be working in close partnership with staff and families to create a plan for reopening safely," she wrote in an email.

Until last week, California schools could reopen for grades TK-6 with a waiver and for middle and high school grades only once their counties have been off of the state's monitoring list for 14 consecutive days. This system was replaced with the state's new color-coded, tiered reopening plan. Schools in the purple or "widespread" tier, including both San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, can't physically reopen unless they receive a waiver from their local health department for TK-6 grades. Schools can reopen for in-person instruction once their county has been in the red, or "substantial" tier for at least two weeks. The state will update each county's data every Tuesday.

Palo Alto Unified Superintendent Don Austin tweeted Tuesday that he was told in a briefing with the Santa Clara County Public Health Department that if the county "stays on the same path, we could be out of the 'purple' range by September 8 (next week)."

"If (and it's an if) Santa Clara moves from 'purple' on September 8, schools COULD reopen for in-person as soon as September 22," he wrote. (Palo Alto Unified has set a start date of Oct. 12, so schools wouldn't fully reopen before then even if permitted to do so.)

California public and private schools gained permission last week to resume in-person instruction for small groups of students in need, primarily students with disabilities but also English learners and students at higher risk of further learning loss or not participating in distance learning.

View a list of districts and schools that have been approved to reopen for in-person instruction in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties here. This list will continue to be updated.

Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.

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Santa Clara, San Mateo counties start granting waivers to schools and districts

Santa Clara County is currently reviewing 61 waiver applications

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Wed, Sep 2, 2020, 11:05 am

Fourteen elementary schools in San Mateo County and two schools and three public districts in Santa Clara County have been approved to reopen for in-person instruction, some as soon as next week.

Some schools in Santa Clara County that have been given the green light to reopen are only allowed to offer face-to-face instruction to specific students, such as students with disabilities. Creekside School in San Jose, which serves students with moderate to severe autism, is on the list of approved waivers. Some of the schools approved in San Mateo County also specifically serve students with disabilities.

The Campbell Union School District, however, is allowed to fully reopen for students from transitional kindergarten through sixth grade. The district serves preschool through eighth grade students.

Santa Clara County is currently reviewing 61 waiver applications, according to an online list. The applications come mostly from individual private schools but also one public school district: the Los Altos School District. The district hopes to start by providing in-person instruction for special education and other disadvantaged students and later ramp up to transitional kindergarten to third grade.

The Primary School in East Palo Alto, Synapse School in Menlo Park and Connect Community Charter School in Redwood City are now allowed to reopen their classrooms, according to a list of approved waiver applications in San Mateo County.

As of Tuesday, Sept. 1, the San Mateo County Office of Education had received just over 20 waiver applications, said Patricia Love, executive director of strategy and communications. The office is initially reviewing the applications and then sending them to San Mateo County Health and the California Department of Public Health for review and approval.

Officials in both Santa Clara and San Mateo counties have urged elementary schools to apply for the waivers.

"I encourage schools to explore the waiver option in order to get children in the early elementary grades on campus," San Mateo County Superintendent of Schools Nancy Magee said in a press release announcing the county's waiver process. "In-person instruction is particularly valuable to younger students whose foundational literacy and numeracy skills are paramount to long-term academic success."

The applications require schools to detail their reopening plans, including how students will be kept in small, stable groups; how classrooms and activities will be laid out to allow for physical distancing; and plans for screening, contract tracing and potential school closure if needed. Schools also must document the labor, parent and community groups that they consulted with in applying for a waiver.

The private Primary School, which serves more than 300 students in preschool through third grade, was "excited" to receive the waiver but has not yet set a reopening date, said Alison Kjeldgaard, the school's senior manager of communications and external relations.

"We will be working in close partnership with staff and families to create a plan for reopening safely," she wrote in an email.

Until last week, California schools could reopen for grades TK-6 with a waiver and for middle and high school grades only once their counties have been off of the state's monitoring list for 14 consecutive days. This system was replaced with the state's new color-coded, tiered reopening plan. Schools in the purple or "widespread" tier, including both San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, can't physically reopen unless they receive a waiver from their local health department for TK-6 grades. Schools can reopen for in-person instruction once their county has been in the red, or "substantial" tier for at least two weeks. The state will update each county's data every Tuesday.

Palo Alto Unified Superintendent Don Austin tweeted Tuesday that he was told in a briefing with the Santa Clara County Public Health Department that if the county "stays on the same path, we could be out of the 'purple' range by September 8 (next week)."

"If (and it's an if) Santa Clara moves from 'purple' on September 8, schools COULD reopen for in-person as soon as September 22," he wrote. (Palo Alto Unified has set a start date of Oct. 12, so schools wouldn't fully reopen before then even if permitted to do so.)

California public and private schools gained permission last week to resume in-person instruction for small groups of students in need, primarily students with disabilities but also English learners and students at higher risk of further learning loss or not participating in distance learning.

View a list of districts and schools that have been approved to reopen for in-person instruction in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties here. This list will continue to be updated.

Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.

Comments

ML Kyle
Registered user
Monta Loma
on Sep 2, 2020 at 2:23 pm
ML Kyle, Monta Loma
Registered user
on Sep 2, 2020 at 2:23 pm
13 people like this

They’re only approving waivers for kids with disabilities or who are low income. The waiver process says nothing about that, but there’s a clear political agenda in who is getting a waiver.

My sons school still hasn’t gotten their waiver and this is nuts. They can follow all guidelines and the county keeps sitting on the schools application.

This madness is unacceptable.


Community Minded
Registered user
another community
on Sep 2, 2020 at 2:44 pm
Community Minded, another community
Registered user
on Sep 2, 2020 at 2:44 pm
16 people like this

Doesn’t sound “political” to me, @MLKyle. Sounds like our county officials are prioritizing those with greatest need. I appreciate our county officials for setting that sensible and just goal.


ML Kyle
Registered user
Monta Loma
on Sep 2, 2020 at 3:08 pm
ML Kyle, Monta Loma
Registered user
on Sep 2, 2020 at 3:08 pm
12 people like this

They’re not prioritizing anything, they’re picking and choosing. Meanwhile private schools don’t have property taxes to go off of.

Orange and San Diego counties have safely approved over 100 waivers, in collaboration with the state of California. Why can’t Santa Clara county do the same?


Gary
Registered user
Sylvan Park
on Sep 2, 2020 at 8:37 pm
Gary , Sylvan Park
Registered user
on Sep 2, 2020 at 8:37 pm
6 people like this

In-person schooling will spread the virus. The smaller each group, the lower the transmission. Trump is planning to announce - falsely - that he has discovered and made available a miracle vaccine to save everyone not yet sick or dead. Putin will vouch for the fake story. Watch. And Vote early.


Gary
Registered user
Sylvan Park
on Sep 2, 2020 at 9:31 pm
Gary , Sylvan Park
Registered user
on Sep 2, 2020 at 9:31 pm
4 people like this

Evidently, there is new Fox News (witch) doctor advising President Trump on "herd immunity." There are plenty to sheep. Thin the herd.


Concerned
Registered user
Whisman Station
on Sep 3, 2020 at 2:46 pm
Concerned, Whisman Station
Registered user
on Sep 3, 2020 at 2:46 pm
3 people like this

I don't understand why Santa Clara county is taking such a long time to approve waiver applications from schools that have applied weeks ago. These schools have prepared carefully to follow all county guidelines in coordination with their assigned liasions and still haven't received approval.

Schools were promised a decision within fourteen days and haven't heard back on the status of their application even after that period. The education department is being inefficient and unprofessional delaying approvals after strongly encouraging elementary schools to apply for these waivers.


Tal Shaya
Registered user
another community
on Sep 4, 2020 at 6:25 am
Tal Shaya, another community
Registered user
on Sep 4, 2020 at 6:25 am
Like this comment

Santa Clara County was the one Bay Area county that didn't go along with the face mask requirement. What is the point of making laws about our health if we turn around and issue waivers? We should not be using our own children as guinea pigs. This stupidity is why America is getting crushed by COVID as other nations move past it.


Steven Nelson
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on Sep 4, 2020 at 12:53 pm
Steven Nelson, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on Sep 4, 2020 at 12:53 pm
1 person likes this

@Tai, I am not quite sure SC Co. 'did not go along with the face mask requirement' - rather even our own North Co. Supervisor, Simitian: Did Not Vote For Reasonable/Compatible FINES For violating the Face Mask Mandate. Our Co. does not match San Mateo Co. dollar fines. Our "fines" start at $0! IMO that is pretty stupid 'enforcement' public policy, for a scientifically solved public health issue. After 5 months! $100 first time fine!

The 'clearly poor' can get a deferral ONLY for First Time, but ONLY IF they do not violate again. The Wealthy - let them pay FULL FREIGHT from the first. The youth? FULL FINE first time also (w/ 'clearly poor' deferral).

Use our fully capitalist form of community coercion (the Almighty Dollar).


Steven Nelson
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on Sep 4, 2020 at 12:55 pm
Steven Nelson, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on Sep 4, 2020 at 12:55 pm
3 people like this

By The Way - below is the link to the County's list of schools that have been granted Or Even Applied for a Waiver. (note lack of MVWSD and MVLA)

Web Link


Steven Nelson
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on Sep 7, 2020 at 4:32 pm
Steven Nelson, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on Sep 7, 2020 at 4:32 pm
Like this comment

Our County Health Department is even working through the Holiday! The link above:
Last updated: 9/7/2020 4:12 PM (still no MVWSD, MVLA or PAUSD)


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