Why are RJUHSD schools open with no social distancing?

Despite being unable to meet the state’s guidelines regarding maintaining four feet distancing in all classrooms, the district remains open and in full pursuit

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Screenshot from CDPH guidelines

On page 21 of the CDPH’s “COVID-19 and Reopening In-person Instruction Framework and Public Health Guidance for K-12 Schools in California (2020-2021)”, it states that “Under no circumstances should distance between student chairs be less than 4 feet.”

On January 14th, the California Department of Public Health issued new COVID-19 guidelines for reopening K-12 schools in California. Included within these guidelines requires that “under no circumstances should distance between student chairs be less than (four) feet”. 

In assessing the feasibility of meeting this requirement while maintaining the current five-days-a-week model, the district has determined that the minimum four feet distance between students can not be ensured in all classrooms across the district. In fact, of the six comprehensive school sites, Antelope, Oakmont, and West Park high schools are able to maintain the minimum four-feet spacing, while Granite Bay, Roseville, and Woodcreek are not.

Despite this, all six school campuses currently remain open under the same pre-existing five-day schedule.

So, the major question in consideration is  – how is this possible?

According to Jess Borjon, the Interim Superintendent of the Roseville Joint Union High School District, the state is rethinking their own guidance.

Dr. (Rob) Oldham, on support from the state, granted us permission to remain in our current schedule pending this new appeal process.”

— Jess Borjon

“The state is … going to release a document that allows for an appeal when schools are unable to meet the minimum (four) feet guidelines,” Borjon said. “Dr. (Rob) Oldham, on support from the state, granted us permission to remain in our current schedule pending this new appeal process.”

Rob Oldham, the director of the Health and Human Services and interim health officer for Placer County, clarified the state’s intentions in an email communication to the district.

“California Department of Public Health leadership has shared that the (January) 14th state guidance was not intended to compel schools to scale back in-person learning if otherwise aligned with state guidance, and that a modification request process may currently be in development by the state,” Oldham wrote. “Both CDPH and Placer County Public Health have indicated that it is reasonable to delay changes to current models until CDPH further clarifies this process and how its latest guidance will be applied to districts already offering in-person learning.”

Once the appeal form – referred to as the “Safety Mitigation Plan” – is available, the district plans to submit it on behalf of the three schools that are currently unable to meet the four feet minimum requirement.

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