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COVID-19 FAQ

On June 30, 2022 the California Department of Public Health issued the COVID-19 Public Health Guidance for K–12 Schools to Support Safe In-Person Learning, 2022–2023 School Year: 

Preamble

This guidance is intended to support safe, in-person learning in K-12 schools and mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Disease management strategies in K–12 schools are guided by the principle that safe, in-person learning is critical to student well-being and development.

COVID-19 is here to stay, but we have learned methods and gained tools to decrease its impact on our health and well-being. California's schools can manage this disease in sustainable and adaptive manners. In alignment with the state's SMARTER plan, California will continue to provide resources—including COVID-19 tests and personal protective equipment—to support these goals and prevent broad disruption to in-person learning.

Additionally, many of the strategies used to address COVID-19 can protect school communities from other diseases and support healthy learning environments. In alignment with the CDC, California schools should consider the approaches described below as potential methods to also safeguard students and staff from other airborne pathogens, allergens, and pollutants (e.g., wildfire smoke).

The guidance is based on current scientific knowledge and anticipated trends. It is subject to change, as COVID-19 conditions can shift rapidly and our response in schools must remain nimble and responsive to dynamic challenges.  

Frequently Asked Questions:

HEALTH AND SAFETY GUIDELINES

1. What health and safety guidance will HESD follow this school year?

HESD is required to follow guidance from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and Ventura County Public Health (VCPH).  This is the most recent CDPH guidance for schools: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/K-12-Guidance-2022-23-School-Year.aspx 

Guidance from VCPH can be more restrictive than CDPH, but not less restrictive.  At this time, VCPH is following the CDPH Guidance for Schools and has not issued any more restrictive guidance.  

The CDC made an update to their guidance on August 11th, and it closely aligns with the CDPH Guidance that has been in effect since July 1, 2022.  Thus far, CDPH has not changed any of their guidance since the August 11th CDC update. The updated CDC Guidance can be viewed here.

STUDENT ABSENCES / SYMPTOMATIC STUDENTS

2. Will students displaying any COVID-19 symptoms be sent home?

As per current COVID-19 CDPH Guidance, students who develop new, unexplained symptoms will be sent home until it is clear that symptoms are mild and improving or are due to a non-infectious cause (e.g., allergies). This includes waiting until 24 hours have passed since resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications. 

3. If a student is absent will they be required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test or doctor's note before returning to campus?

In most situations, any student who develops new, unexplained symptoms should not return to campus until it is clear that symptoms are mild and improving or are due to a non-infectious cause (e.g., allergies). This includes waiting until 24 hours have passed since resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications. 

If a student with COVID-19 symptoms returns to campus, they will be asked for a negative test.  

If a student is absent, but does not have any COVID-19 symptoms, they will not be required to show proof of a negative COVID test or doctor’s note.  

4. When can a student or staff member with a positive test return to school or work?

Students or staff who test positive must stay home for at least 5 days after the start of symptoms (or after the date of first positive test if no symptoms).

Isolation can end after day 5 if symptoms are not present or are resolving and a diagnostic specimen collected (antigen test preferred) on day 5 or later tests negative.  Students or staff with a negative test before day 10 should wear a well-fitting face mask when returning to school or work. 

NOTIFICATIONS - POSITIVE COVID-19

5. Will staff and families continue to be notified if a positive case is identified on their school campus?

Staff Notifications:

Cal/OSHA’s current Emergency Temporary Standards, which are in effect through December 31, 2022, require employers to communicate a “Notice of Potential Exposure to COVID-19” to employees.   During times of elevated community transmission rates, a general  “Notification of Potential Exposure” will be sent to alert all to the increased potential of being exposed to COVID-19 due to a rise in cases among school and community members.  The intent of the notice is to remind all to monitor for symptoms and get tested.  During times with lower community transmission, notices of potential exposure will be sent to staff when there is a positive case on campus.

Student Notifications:

While student exposure notifications are not required, prompt notification to students and families regarding exposure to infectious diseases, including COVID-19, can allow for rapid testing, early treatment, and prevention of further spread. During times of low community transmission, notices of potential exposure will be sent to students and families, to the extent possible.  During times of elevated community transmission, a general notification of potential exposure will be sent to the entire school community. 

6. Will the district COVID-19 dashboard be updated?

With the move from lab-based testing to at-home/OTC testing, the district COVID-19 dashboard will no longer be updated. 

FACILITIES

7. Will atomizer spray refills continue to be available for teachers to clean their classroom between class periods?

Certificated staff members who are interested in using atomizer sprayers to disinfect their classrooms during recess/passing periods will have the option to use them.  Staff should communicate their desire to use the atomizer sprayers with their principal.

8. Should doors and windows remain open all day to allow for ventilation?

Classrooms without air conditioning should keep doors or windows open to allow for ventilation.  Portable fans can be used to help create cross-ventilation.  These rooms also have air purifiers that operate while the system fan is running.  

Classrooms/offices with air conditioning use the highest grade filter compatible with the HVAC system and are designed to create a healthier environment.  Doors and windows should be closed as the system brings in air from them outside and then circulates the indoor air through the filters.  

9. How will classrooms and other facilities be cleaned?

Per the June 30, 2022 CDPH Guidelines, routine cleaning is enough to sufficiently remove the virus that causes COVID-19 from surfaces.

10. Can students use drinking fountains?

Per the June 30, 2022 CDPH Guidelines, drinking fountains may be open and used by students and staff. Routine cleaning is recommended.

COVID-19 TESTING

11. Will there be a testing site at Haycox and Blackstock this year?

No.  CDPH has discontinued their PCR testing program, which was the program HESD participated in last school year.  CDPH now recommends that antigen tests be considered the primary option for detecting COVID-19 in schools, both OTC (over the counter) and professional labs, as the primary means of testing.  OTC tests will be available at school sites as they are received from CDPH. 

12. Will students be given COVID-19 test kits before school begins on August 25th?

CDPH no longer recommends testing asymptotic students, except when returning from major breaks.  Students will have the opportunity to receive a COVID-19 test kit prior to school starting. Test kits will be distributed during the junior high orientations and available for pick up at all elementary schools prior to the start of school.  

13. Will COVID-19 test kits continue to be given to students prior to returning from long weekends and holiday vacations?

If CDPH continues to provide an adequate supply of OTC antigen tests, COVID-19 tests will be distributed for students to use when returning from winter and spring breaks.  

14. Will there be a district site where staff can get tested?

As mentioned in question 7, CDPH has discontinued their PCR testing program, which was the program HESD participated in last school year.  CDPH now recommends that antigen tests be considered the primary option for detecting COVID-19 in schools, both OTC (over-the-counter) and professional labs.  OTC tests will be available at school sites as they are received from CDPH. 

15.  Why is the CDPH Testing Task Force encouraging schools to use Over-the-Counter/At-Home Antigen Testing as the primary option for the 2022/23 School Year? / Why are we moving away from PCR testing?

Lab-based molecular testing (PCR/LAMP) has several disadvantages in the school setting. It is sensitive enough that it picks up very low levels of virus, both before and after an infection (sometimes for months). Detecting low levels of virus in a person who is not able to transmit can make them unnecessarily miss school, despite feeling well and not being a risk to others. Also, because lab-based molecular tests (PCR/LAMP) need to go to a lab, results are much slower. The time from nose swab to result is often 2–3 days (including time at collecting site, time in transport, and time in lab processing). For someone who has virus levels that are high enough to transmit virus, an antigen test that gives rapid results is much better to guide immediate isolation to prevent transmission. Antigen tests may not catch every early or late case, but they are good at detecting high levels of virus, when it is important to isolate immediately.

16. Can school staff provide an OTC/at-home kit to a student to self-administer on campus?

Yes, school staff can provide an OTC/at-home test kit to a student or staff that meets OTC/at-home age requirements to self-administer on campus. 

17. Can expired OTC/at-home tests be used beyond their expiration date?

CDPH endorses the emergency use of OTC/at-home COVID-19 Tests beyond their FDA authorized expiration as long as the internal control line remains valid (more information here).  The FDA has also formally extended the expiration date on many of the OTC tests.  

FACE MASKS

Masks remain a highly effective tool to protect oneself and mitigate transmission of COVID-19 and other respiratory pathogens.

18. Will masks continue to be provided/ available for teachers, students, and any guest that arrives on campus?

Yes, masks will continue to be available.

19.  Will anyone be prevented from wearing a face mask?

No person will be prevented from wearing a mask as a condition of participation in an activity or entry into a school, unless wearing a mask would pose a safety hazard.

20.  Will face masks be required at any time during the year?

Unless otherwise directed by local health departments or local educational agencies, students and staff should follow CDPH masking guidance for the general public, which terminated the universal masking requirement for K-12 and Childcare settings on March 11, 2022.  Face masks are recommended in certain instances (e.g., when having symptoms, being infected, or exposed).  

VACCINATION REQUIREMENTS

21. Will parents be allowed to be in classrooms without uploading vaccination cards?

Yes, the Vaccine Verification for Worker's in Schools has been rescinded, effective 9/17/22.

22.  Is the State Public Health Officer Order "Vaccine Verification for Workers in Schools (August 11th, 2021)" still in effect? 

No, the Order was rescinded, effective 9/17/22.

23. Can over-the-counter (OTC)/at-home tests be used to meet the requirements of the State Public Health Officer Order "Vaccine Verification for Workers in Schools (August 11th, 2021)"

The State Public Health Officer Order "Vaccine Verification for Workers in Schools (August 11th, 2021)" was rescinded, effective 9/17/22. This removes all requirements related to the August 11, 2021 Public Order.

SUPPLEMENTAL SICK LEAVE

24. Will staff be given COVID sick days as in prior years?

Last January, California required employers to provide COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave (Assembly Bill 152) for most workers through September 30, 2022. In order to meet this requirement, rather than just providing the minimum COVID-19 supplemental paid leave as required, HESD granted all employees 10 days (prorated for part time employees) of supplemental paid sick leave that would not expire on September 30th and can still be used.  

Employees hired after the supplemental paid sick leave was granted, are still eligible for COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave through December 31, 2022 as per Assembly Bill 152.

OTHER

25. Will district and/or school site meetings and trainings be held in person, virtually or hybrid?

All meetings and trainings may be held in person this year.  Some meeting organizers may choose a virtual or hybrid format, but there is nothing in the CDPH or CDC guidance that would require virtual or hybrid meetings. 

26. Do students need to stay in cohorts?

There is no recommendation to cohort in either the CDPH or CDC guidance.