Category Archives: Re-opening

Benicia School Superintendent Young: Letter on COVID-19 plans

YOUNG: “…transitioning to in-person instruction is not like flipping an on-off switch…. For now, we will remain in our virtual learning model until the Board approves any changes.”

Solano County COVID-19 Tier Status

Sep 22, 2020 | Latest News, nCoV
Charles F. Young, BUSD Superintendent

Dear BUSD Community,

I hope this communication finds everyone safe and well.

As you know, the Governor implemented a new Covid-19 monitoring system on Friday, August 28, 2020.  There are four tiers to the system: Tier 1 is purple-wide spread; Tier 2 is red-substantial; Tier 3 is orange-moderate, and Tier 4 is yellow-minimal.

As of today, September 22, 2020, Solano County has moved to Tier 2, red-substantial.  If our county remains in the Tier 2 status for 14 consecutive days, school districts will be permitted to hold in-person instruction.  The maintenance of Tier 2 status would allow for schools to implement an approved hybrid model as districts phase into in-person instruction. For more information on Solano County Covid-19 data, see https://covid19.ca.gov/safer-economy/

While we view this as positive news, it is important to note that transitioning to any in-person instruction, including the hybrid models presented before the start of the school year, takes a good deal of planning and preparation. Our administrators, teachers, staff, and Board have been working together to monitor the changing landscape and consider the District’s options. Our planning includes aspects that must be bargained with the teachers union (BTA) and the classified staff union (CSEA).

It is important to note that transitioning to in-person instruction is not like flipping an on-off switch; rather, it is more like bringing a sizable power-grid back on-line, which has to be done thoughtfully, carefully and judicially to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone involved.

We are currently working on next steps and will discuss them in detail at the October 16th Board meeting. For now, we will remain in our virtual learning model until the Board approves any changes.

We appreciate your patience as we work through this process with the health and safety of everyone involved as our primary goal.

In partnership,
Charles F. Young, Ed. D
Superintendent

Solano County press release: Loosening some COVID restrictions, “…best defense is to continue with the safety protocols”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 22, 2020

  • News Contacts:
    Matthew A. Davis, Sr. Management Analyst and Public Communications Officer (707) 784-6111 and MADavis@SolanoCounty.com (AND)
  • Jayleen Richards, Public Health Administrator, Health and Social Services Department (707) 784-8616 and JMRichards@SolanoCounty.com

State moves Solano County into red tier (Tier 2) on COVID-19 framework; allows businesses to reopen some additional indoor activities with modifications

SOLANO COUNTY – The California Department of Public Health announced today that Solano County has been moved into the red tier (Tier 2) on the state’s COVID-19 response framework, allowing for more local businesses and activities to resume some additional indoor activities, with modifications.

“Solano County has made progress in reducing the spread of COVID-19 in our community,” says Bela T. Matyas, M.D., M.P.H., Solano County Health Officer. “As more businesses reopen, we all need to do our part to protect ourselves and others from COVID-19 infection, and our best defense is to continue with the safety protocols—wear a mask, watch your distance and wash your hands.”

Before the move today, the State had placed Solano County in the most restrictive tier; Tier 1, the purple tier, where COVID-19 infection rates are considered “widespread,” and many indoor businesses operations remained closed or with limited capacity. The transition into Tier 2, the red tier, allows for more business with indoor operations to increase capacity. Businesses need to continue to adhere to the State’s Industry Guidance for social distancing best practices to help protect employees, customers and the community to continue to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 infection.

MOVING INTO TIER 2 (RED) ALLOWS:
  • Restaurants indoor dining (max 25% capacity of facility or 100 people, whichever is fewer)
  • All retail indoors (max 50% capacity of facility)
  • Shopping centers, swap meets indoors (max 50% capacity of facility, closed common areas)
  • Personal care services – hair and nail salons, barbershops (open with modifications)
  • Museums, zoos and aquariums (max 25% capacity of facility)
  • Places of worship (max 25% capacity of facility or 100 people, whichever is fewer)
  • Movie theaters indoors (max 25% capacity of facility or 100 people, whichever is fewer)
  • Gyms and fitness centers indoors (max 10% capacity of facility)
BUSINESSES MUST STILL IMPLEMENT STATE-MANDATED INDUSTRY GUIDANCE:

Prior to opening under Tier 2, all businesses must review the Solano County Health Order, complete a State COVID-19 general checklist and ensure a written plan is on file and available for public review. Information and resources on Guidance for Industries is available on the Solano County website at www.SolanoCounty.com/COVID19.

WHAT CAN HAPPEN OVER THE NEXT SEVERAL WEEKS

If Solano County continues to make progress in preventing COVID-19 transmission, additional business sectors and indoor activities can progressively begin to open, with modifications, within the next three weeks, per the State’s Industry Guidelines. If the County’s COVID-19 metrics worsen, the County would be directed to revert to a more restrictive tier as soon as two weeks from today. Per state regulations, K-12 schools can reopen to classroom-based learning with COVID-19 modifications after two weeks of the County in Tier 2, providing there is no new surge in COVID-19 infections.

FREE COVID-19 TESTING FOR ANYONE IN SOLANO COUNTY

As more businesses begin to reopen, remember that you can be tested for COVID-19 for free, regardless of symptoms. Same-day appointments are available. Sign up at www.Lhi.Care/CovidTesting and/or by calling (888) 634-1123.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

To find the status of activities in the County, visit https://covid19.ca.gov/safer-economy/.
For more information about COVID-19 in Solano County, visit www.SolanoCounty.com/COVID19 or call the Coronavirus Warmline at (707) 784-8988, email COVID19@SolanoCounty.com and on Public Health’s Facebook page, www.Facebook.com/SolanoCountyPH (@SolanoCountyPH).

SOLANO COUNTY PUBLIC HEALTH

675 Texas St., Suite 6500, Fairfield, CA 94533
fax (707) 784-7975   *   www.solanocounty.com

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100,000 children have the virus – thank goodness Benicia Schools will open Aug 17 with distance learning only

[For latest info on Benicia Schools see August 6 Virtual Plan Update. For other BUSD information see Reopening / COVID Response. – R.S.] 

Children and the virus: As schools reopen, much remains unknown about the risk to kids and the peril they pose to others

Washington Post, by Haisten Willis, Chelsea Janes and  Ariana Eunjung Cha, August 10, 2020
Parent Amanda Seghetti was concerned when photos on social media showed students — bereft of masks and not observing social distancing — crowding Georgia schools last week. (Lynsey Weatherspoon for The Washington Post)

DALLAS, Ga. — The photos showed up on social media just hours into the first day of school: 80 beaming teens in front of Etowah High School near Atlanta, with not a mask on a single face and hardly six inches of distance between them — let alone the recommended six feet.

Amanda Seghetti, a mom in the area, said her parent Facebook group lit up when the pictures of the seniors were posted. Some people thought the images were cute. Others freaked out. Seghetti was in the latter constituency.

“It’s like they think they are immune and are in denial about everything,” Seghetti said.

Pictures of packed school hallways in Georgia and news of positive tests on the first day of classes in Indiana and Mississippi sparked the latest fraught discussions over the risk the coronavirus presents to children — and what’s lost by keeping them home from school. Friday brought reports of more infections among Georgia students, with dozens forced into quarantine in Cherokee County, among other places.

For months, parents and teachers, epidemiologists and politicians have chimed in with their views on the many still-unanswered questions about the extent to which the virus is a threat to children — and the extent to which they can fuel its spread.

A report from leading pediatric health groups found that more than 97,000 U.S. children tested positive for the coronavirus in the last two weeks of July, more than a quarter of the total number of children diagnosed nationwide since March. As of July 30, there were 338,982 cases reported in children since the dawn of the pandemic, according to data from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association.

President Trump has repeatedly maintained the virus poses little threat to children.

“The fact is they are virtually immune from this problem,” Trump said Wednesday in an interview with Axios.

Eight months after the World Health Organization received the first report of a “pneumonia of unknown cause” in China, much remains uncertain about the coronavirus and children.

Doctors are more confident that most children exposed to the virus are unlikely to have serious illness, a sentiment backed by a report published Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that concluded children are far less likely to be hospitalized with covid-19, the illness caused by the virus, than adults. But when children do fall seriously sick, the burden of illness is borne disproportionately: That same CDC report concluded that Hispanic children are approximately eight times more likely and Black children five times more likely to be hospitalized with covid-19 than their White peers.

Early studies on children and the virus were small and conflicting. But accumulating evidence suggests the coronavirus may affect younger children differently than older ones.

For example,doctors say themultisystem inflammatorysyndrome linked to the virus — known as MIS-C —that has appeared in some children weeks after infectionpresents differently in younger children than in teens and young adults. Infants and preschoolers who have been diagnosed with the syndrome have symptoms mirroring Kawasaki, a disease of unknown cause that inflames blood vessels.In the older group, the consequences appear more severe, with doctors describing it more like a shock syndrome that has led to heart failure and even death.

Several studies suggest adolescence could mark a turning point for how the virus affects youths — and their ability to spread the pathogen.

One paper published in July in the journal JAMA Pediatrics found that children younger than 5 with mild to moderatecases ofcovid-19 had much higher levels of virus in their noses than older children and adults — suggesting they could be more infectious. That study, conducted by doctors at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, used data from 145 children tested at drive-through sites in that region.

A study out of South Korea examining household transmission also found age-based differences in children. Puzzlingly, it seemed to reach an opposite conclusion about transmission than the Chicago researchers did. Children under age 10 did not appear to pass on the virus readily, while those between 10 and 19 appeared to transmit the virus almost as much as adults did.

Max Lau, an epidemiologist at Emory University tracking superspreader events in the state in collaboration with the Georgia Department of Public Health, said two striking trends have emerged even as work continues on an analysis of recent data.

Disease detectives have found relatively few infections among young children even after the state loosened its coronavirus-related shutdown. Researchers elsewhere have noted there hasn’t been a clear, documented case of a young child triggering an outbreak. In contrast, cases spiked among 15- to 25-year-olds, suggesting they may be driving the spread of the virus.

“When the shelter-in-place lifted, they perceived that they could go back to normal life and that’s what I observed,” Lau said.

In May, Jerusalem’s Gymnasia Ha’ivrit high school was the center of a major outbreak that public health officials said seeded transmission to other neighborhoods. In June, an overnight YMCA camp in Georgia was forced to close after 260 of 597 children and staff members tested positive for the virus — an event some experts heralded as a parable for what can happen when young people are allowed to gather without being attentive to wearing masks or maintaining physical distance. At that camp, the first to come down with symptoms and be sent home was a teenage counselor.

Other gatherings among teens have led to smaller outbreaks. In New Jersey, it was a party at a country club that left at least 20 teens infected. In Michigan, health officials said more than 100 teens in three counties have tested positive since mid-July following graduations and other parties.

Sadiya S. Khan, an assistant professor of cardiology and preventive medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, said social practices, rather than biology, may explain why teens and young adults appear to be spreading infection.

“They are more likely to be out and about. They are more likely to not have experienced any consequences,” Khan said. “There has been a lot of attention to the fact that people who are older have a worse course and if you’re young, it doesn’t feel as dangerous, so they might think, ‘Why be as careful?’ ”

Khan said she worries schools that don’t enforce mask-wearing and social distancing can be laboratories for superspreader events rippling out to the broader community.

For years, the flu vaccine was targeted to adults. Then, researchers recognized the role of children in spreading the virus and advised they be inoculated. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Medical history tells us that children’s role in infectious diseases is not always what we first assume. In 1960, in response to significant deaths among the elderly during the 1957-1958 influenza pandemic, the surgeon general recommended flu vaccines for people 65 and older. It wasn’t until decades later that studies showed that mortality among older people could be reduced by vaccinating the young. In 2002, the CDC recommended flu shots for infants and in 2008 expanded that to school-age children.

With the coronavirus pandemic, like any disease outbreak, research takes time, and experts say decisions being made about reopening schools are necessarily being made without the full picture of the risk the virus poses to children.

For example, the CDC’s study of that Georgia YMCA camp did not include detailed tracing of how cases spread among campgoers. Did one teenage counselor spread the virus to the whole camp? Did that counselor infect a few younger children, who in turn infected other younger children?

Similarly, that study did not document what happened to families of the infected when the children returned home. Did they bring the virus back to their families, thereby dispelling the notion that children do not transmit the virus to adults? Or, if infections did spread, was it simply the result of high viral prevalence in Georgia, and not the result of contact with a campgoer?

As the case of the Georgia camp illustrates, measuring the risk younger children face in returning to school continues to be an inexact art. Parents are left with the agonizing and anxiety-riddled task of evaluating that potential peril for themselves. And they must weigh the potential health risks of the virus against the educational, social, developmental and economic consequences of children remaining out of the classroom.

Teachers unions from Florida to Ohio have protested plans to fully reopen schools, arguing that even if a few months of data suggests children are not likely to suffer severe outcomes from the virus, they could still pass it to vulnerable adults.

On Aug. 2 — hours before the first day of school — the principal of North Paulding High School near Atlanta sent a letter to parents informing them of coronavirus infections on the football team. Video on the Facebook page for the team’s parent-run booster club showed members of the team, with no masks or distance between them, lifting in a weight room as part of a fundraising event a week earlier.

On the first day of school, students posted a picture of hallways crammed with unmasked classmates. One student was initially suspended for posting the pictures. The school overturned that suspension Friday.

Within days, the school burst into the national spotlight, and the issue spawned heated arguments in a local Facebook group called “What’s Happening Paulding,” with parents occasionally descending into name-calling and expletive-laced tirades as they argued over whether the pictures should warrant concern. Sunday night, North Paulding High sent a letter to parents announcing the school would be closed to in-person learning for at least two days because of nine cases of the coronavirus.

John Cochran, the father of a ninth-grader and middle-schooler in the Georgia school system, said in an interview he felt it wasn’t safe for his children to attend school in person, in part because multiple adults in their family are immunocompromised.

“That was one thing we stressed to the kids — they’ve got too many adults that they are regularly in contact with who could be in bad shape if they pick this up from them,” Cochran said. “Personally, I didn’t want that on my kids’ conscience that they went to school and got their mother, stepdad, dad or grandparents sick.”

Seghetti has decided to keep son Kaiden, 11, out of his Georgia school.
Seghetti has decided to keep son Kaiden, 11, out of his Georgia school. (Lynsey Weatherspoon for The Washington Post)

In Georgia’s Cherokee County, where the 80 students gathered for that unmasked photo, Seghetti said she knows she’s in the minority in deciding to keep her 11-year-old son, Kaiden, home from school.

Seghetti said after seeing photos shared by parents from inside schools and learning that two elementary campuses in the district already had reported coronavirus cases — a second-grader Tuesday and a first-grader Wednesday — she is confident she made the right decision. Cherokee County schools spokeswoman Barbara P. Jacoby said the schools have implemented changes to try to keep students safe, including staggering bell times to avoid hall crowding and providing students with two masks each they can wear if they wish.

Karin Jessop’s two children, ages 12 and 13, attended that YMCA day camp at Lake Burton where the residential camp outbreak unfolded. Her children, who were at the camp for four weeks but came home each night, did not get infected; the outbreak was among those who stayed overnight, another reminder of the unpredictability of the spread.

Jessop, a technology company executive, said after news of the outbreak broke, “a lot of moms were getting stressed out about making the wrong decision and worried what people will think.”

“At the end of the day, it’s your family,” she said, adding she believes staying home affects her children’s development, which makes the camp experience worth the risk.

“Many of these kids have been home since March, and if you have super gregarious, extroverted kids, they are used to and need that interaction.”

SFGATE: “Solano guidance is not completely in line with assessments of the virus by the Centers for Disease Control”

Solano County: COVID patients may return to work after 10 days, even with ‘lingering symptoms’

SFGATE, by Alyssa Pereira, August 5, 2020
FILE: Hand washing stations are posted for guests at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom on July 2, 2020 in Vallejo, which is located in Solano County. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images / 2020 Getty Images
Hand washing stations are posted for guests at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom on July 2, 2020 in Vallejo, which is located in Solano County. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Solano County issued new guidance to residents Tuesday, stating that employees in the county who test positive for COVID-19 may return to work after isolating for 10 days, whether or not they continue to exhibit symptoms of the disease caused by the virus. Typical symptoms may include coughing, fever, or respiratory issues.

“Anyone who tested positive and has isolated for 10 days from the date that their symptoms began is no longer infectious, even if some may have lingering symptoms,” said Dr. Bela Matyas, Solano County Health Officer. “We understand that businesses have concerns about employees returning to the workplace; however, re-testing is unnecessary to prove that employees can no longer spread the disease. Once the 10-day isolation has been completed, employees may return to work.”

Matyas added that there is no need for that person to re-test at the end of the 10-day isolation, as “most people with confirmed COVID-19 will continue to have positive test results for several weeks.”

Solano County’s guidance is not completely in line with assessments of the virus by the Centers for Disease Control. A survey of available data found that people with “mild to moderate” COVID-19 symptoms are infectious for no longer than 10 days. However, those with more serious “severe to critical” symptoms have been found to be contagious up to “20 days after symptom onset.”

Additionally, the CDC recommends that a person who tests positive for the disease and exhibits symptoms may end isolation after 10 days if their fever has returned to normal for at least 24 hours and other symptoms have improved.

“These findings strengthen the justification for relying on a symptom based, rather than test-based strategy for ending isolation of these patients, so that persons who are by current evidence no longer infectious are not kept unnecessarily isolated and excluded from work or other responsibilities,” the CDC added.