California Public Health Officials Release Guidance on Youth Sports and Elementary School Waivers

Youth Sports Must Comply with Cohorting and Physical Distancing Requirements, with an Emphasis on Physical Conditioning and Skill-Building
School Officials May Apply for Waivers to Open Grades TK-6 for In-Person Instruction Only If They Can Guarantee Small Cohorted Instruction, Receive Sign-Off From the Local Health Officer, and Consult with Members of the School Communit

The California Department of Public Health today released guidance on youth sports and detailed the process for elementary schools to request a waiver to resume in-person instruction in counties on the state monitoring list.

‚ÄúCOVID-19 continues to spread in California, and to help slow transmission we must focus on basic public health guidelines to protect our families, our communities, and our students from the virus,‚ÄĚ said Dr. Sonia Angell, State Public Health Officer and Director of the California Department of Public Health. ‚ÄúToday‚Äôs guidance ensures that critical public health measures are in place to reduce risk in a number of educational and youth settings.‚ÄĚ

Youth Sports

The guidance for youth sports¬†establishes a consistent set of rules that¬†apply¬†to all youth sports programs¬†‚ÄĒ including school-based, club, and recreational programs.¬†Outdoor and indoor sporting events, assemblies, and other activities that require close contact or that would promote congregating, such as tournaments and competitions, are not permitted at this time.¬†Youth sports and physical education are permitted only when physical distancing of at least six feet and a stable cohort of participants, such as a class, can be maintained.¬†Activities should take place outside to the maximum extent possible.

The youth sports guidance is available here.

Waiver Process for Elementary Schools to Resume In-Person Instruction

On July 17, 2020 Governor Gavin Newsom announced that schools in counties that have been on the County Data Monitoring list within the prior 14 days, are only allowed to conduct distance learning and that there would be a waiver process that could allow some elementary schools in those counties to conduct in-person learning if they could meet stringent health requirements. State health officials noted recent scientific data showing that young children were far less likely to shed and transmit the virus.

Today, the California Department of Public Health is releasing that waiver process. A district superintendent, private school principal or head of school, or executive director of a charter school may apply for a waiver from the local health officer to open an elementary school for in-person instruction in a county on the monitoring list. This waiver is applicable only for grades TK-6, even if the grade configuration at the school includes additional grades. The application for a waiver must include an attestation that the applicant consulted with parent, labor, and community organizations at each school site for which an application is being submitted.

The application must also include confirmation that the elementary school reopening plans have been published on the website of the local educational agency (or private school). Reopening plans must address, at a minimum, plans for cleaning and disinfection, cohorting, movement within school, face coverings and protective equipment, health screenings, healthy hygiene practices, contact tracing, physical distancing, staff training and family education, testing, communication plans and triggers for switching to distance learning.

Upon receipt of a waiver application, the local health officer should review and consider the following:

  • Available scientific evidence regarding COVID-related risks in schools serving elementary-age students, along with the health-related risks for children who are not provided in-person instruction.
  • Whether elementary in-person instruction can be provided in small, stable cohorts.
  • Local health guidance, safety plans, availability of appropriate PPE, and availability of public health and school resources for COVID-19 investigation and response.
  • Local epidemiological data.
  • Local conditions or data contributing to inclusion on the County Data Monitoring list.
  • Availability of testing resources.
  • The extent to which the applicant has consulted with staff, labor organizations, community, and parent organizations.

Following review, the local health officer should consult with CDPH regarding the determination whether to grant or deny the waiver application. Local health officers may conditionally grant an application with limits on the number of elementary schools allowed to re-open or allow re-opening in phases to monitor for any impact on the community.

More information on the waiver process is available on the CDPH website:

In addition, the Department released a set of FAQs related to K-12 schools and youth sports.

California will continue to update and issue guidance based on the best available public health data, and the best practices currently employed. More information about the state’s COVID-19 guidance is on the¬†California Department of Public Health’s Guidance web page.

More information about reopening California and what individuals can do to prevent the spread of COVID-19, visit Coronavirus (COVID-19) in California.

 

Bryan May

Bryan May is Chief of Public Information & Media Relations for the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services. Prior to joining Cal OES in 2017, Bryan spent 30 years as an Emmy award winning television anchor and reporter.

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