Common Questions about School Reopening

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Updated July 15, 2020

Here are answers to common questions about plans to reopen school campuses for the 2020-2021 school year. This list will be updated regularly.

 

Is COVID-19 testing required for all students and staff before they can return to school?

Ventura County schools will follow state and local public health guidance regarding conditions for reopening schools. Based on current guidance, universal COVID testing is neither recommended nor required. (7-14-20)

 

Will students be required to wear masks at school?

VCOE is in constant communication with VCPH. While guidance may change based on regional conditions, currently the Ventura County Public Health officer has not yet determined whether masks will be required for school reopening in Fall 2020. Public health guidance regarding face coverings will be in alignment with state guidance and/or executive orders. (7-14-20)

 

What type of mask is required for students or staff returning to school after a confirmed positive COVID-19 exposure?

Both cloth face coverings and medical/surgical face mask are worn to provide protection to others. Recommendations for face coverings and medical/surgical masks are based on local guidance. Current guidance allows essential students and staff to return to school wearing a medical/surgical mask for 14 days with a confirmed negative COVID-19 test negative result after a confirmed positive COVID-19 exposure. (7-14-20)

 

How will students be screened for symptoms?

Ventura County Public Health guidance provides current recommendations for screening and evaluating ill students. Trained school personnel will be providing daily active and/or passive screening of all staff and students. Based on state and local recommendations, any student or staff exhibiting symptoms will be referred for further evaluation. (7-14-20)

 

Is a COVID-19 test required for students and staff who have been in contact with someone known to be positive?

Per VCPH Guiding Principles:

Staff that are identified as a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 will be referred for testing. Verification of a negative result would allow the person to return to work. 

Students who remained with the same cohort of individuals, the teacher and students in the classroom with the individual who was confirmed as being positive for COVID-19 should be considered contacts and be referred for testing. Students and staff that test negative may continue to attend or to work at the school. (7-14-20)

 

Is a negative test result required before returning to school for individuals who have been in contact with someone known to be positive?

Current CDC guidance for an individual considered a close contact to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 is to isolate at home until 14 days after their last exposure. Under VCPH guidance, verification of a negative result would allow the student or staff to return to school sooner than 14 days.  

Per VCPH Guiding Principles:

While the individual [considered a close contact] is awaiting initial test results, they should isolate at home and be provided with an option for distance learning. Students and staff that test negative may continue to attend or to work at the school but should wear medical masks and practice meticulous hand hygiene and social distancing. They should be retested at approximately 7 days and 14 days. Temperature/symptom checks would be taken twice per day and reported to VCPH as part of contact follow-up. (7-15-20)
 

Why are the recommendations about positive COVID-19 cases different for elementary and middle/high school students?

The intent is to recognize that middle school and high school students may be more likely to consistently maintain physical distancing requirements. Elementary aged students, due to their varying developmental stages, may not be able to consistently maintain and respect social distancing guidelines. Consequently, in coordination with VCPH, if it is determined that middle school and high school students in a specific environment did maintain strict social distancing, they may not be considered close contacts. (7-14-20)

 

What are the objective criteria about the spread of the virus that will determine when school campuses should open or close?

Ventura County schools will follow state and local public health guidance regarding conditions for reopening schools, including complete and/or partial closure. Based on current guidance, Ventura County schools are preparing plans to reopen that incorporate a combination of distance learning and face-to-face environments with social distancing in place. Decisions are based on state and local illness rates. Schools will be conducting attendance surveillance and coordinating with Ventura County Public Health. Closure of a classroom or multiple classrooms may be necessary to prevent disease transmission, but any decision to close classrooms or schools will be made in consultation with Ventura County Public Health. (7-14-20)

 

If a school nurse is unavailable, how will school personnel get necessary medical advice? 

Identified school personnel meet regularly with Ventura County Public Health and have access to public health nurses. Identified school personnel will be provided training and support by public health and VCOE. Public health nurses have been assigned to receive calls via a designated school phone line and a designated school email. (7-14-20)