FAIRFIELD — The Fairfield-Suisun School District governing board voted Thursday to return to in-person learning once Solano County returns to the state’s red tier level.
Schools must have an approved Covid-19 reopening plan to do so.
Dr. Bela Matyas, the county’s public health officer, said this week that several smaller schools had already submitted their reopening plans for review.
Matyas also said the county is on the cusp of re-entering the red tier of the color-coded Covid-19 monitoring system. Doing so would allow school districts to open up classrooms for transitional kindergarten through sixth grade.
The threshold the county needs to leave what’s now the most-restrictive purple tier and enter the less-restrictive red tier is a daily new-case average of 110 cases over five days, and the county, based on the timeframe reviewed, was below 105, Matyas said midweek.
If the current trend continues, Matyas projected the county will reach the red tier standards by the end of the month. Those standards also include an average of fewer than 31 cases per day and a seven-day positivity testing rating that’s below 8%.
The county must remain in the red tier for five days for schools to reopen to younger children and preteens. School district staff estimate schools could reopen as early as March 16.
California’s color-based monitoring system designates the purple tier for counties where transmission of the novel coronavirus is considered to be widespread. Shutdown orders for counties in the purple tier are the most severe. The red tier is for counties with a substantial spread of the virus. The orange tier designates moderate virus transmission, while the yellow tier is reserved for counties where the spread of the virus is deemed to be minimal.
Restrictions to slow the spread of the virus are eased as counties move from purple to red, red to orange and orange to yellow.
There’s an extensive list of health and safety measures that must be in place for schools to reopen, even for children in younger grades.
The Fairfield-Suisun School District has already posted and submitted its school reopening safety plan to the appropriate authorities for review.
The plan adopted by the school board Thursday is for children to return slowly to school over the course of about four weeks.
Children who receive special education services and preschoolers would return the first week, followed by children in kindergarten through third grade. Children in sixth through eighth grades at the district’s K-8 schools would be next.
Middle schoolers would maintain what the district describes as “synchronous distance learning” in the morning Monday through Friday, with groups of students receiving in-person instruction later in the day.
A plan by Gov. Gavin Newsom to support schools as they reopen has not yet cleared the state Legislature. The plan offers an additional $450 per student to school districts that return to in-person learning.
Officials estimate that translates at somewhere between $8.5 million and $13.2 million in additional state funding for the Fairfield-Suisun School District.
“We have to be open to the fluidity of this situation. Things can change that are out of our control,” Superintendent Kris Corey said. “The vote we make tonight might be taken away by the state legislation depending on our situation.”
Anticipation for the Covid-19 vaccine is currently high; the staff estimated that around March the vaccine would be available for the general public, subject to availability.
The vaccine is not a mandate for students to attend school or enroll in school. Neither is it mandated for teachers or staff who work on campus. The district would also not require people to reveal whether they have received the vaccine.
Solano County Office of Education and Solano Public Health will set up three school site locations in the county to vaccinate all staff who work in K-12 education, the school district reports.
Plans are in place for possible exposure to the virus should a student or teacher become ill. Employees would be notified as quickly as possible along with parents and students. It is possible that classrooms would be locked for cleaning.
Positive cases, both among students and employees, must be reported to Solano Public Health immediately upon learning of the confirmed positive case. If multiple cases of an outbreak are reported, it is possible that the school will be closed.
An outbreak as defined by the California Department of Public Health would be three or more confirmed probable cases of students or staff occurring within a 14-day period.
High school marching band teachers have been offered the opportunity to work with students – no wind instruments – in accordance with California Department of Public Health guidelines. Two teachers were working with marching band students as of Feb. 5, the district reports.
Outdoor singing and band practice are permitted as long as precautions such as physical distancing and mask-wearing are implemented to the maximum extent possible.
Sports are still limited to cross country, golf, swimming, diving, tennis, and track and field. Baseball and softball would be allowed again – with precautions – once Solano County enters the red tier.
Schools shut down in-person classroom instruction in March to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19. A number of private schools and charter schools have reopened to either full-time in-class instruction or a hybrid model that includes some in-person instruction and some virtual instruction.
Public schools across Solano County are working toward the resumption of in-person instruction that has already occurred in some fashion at a number of private schools.
Classes have resumed on campus for children in elementary school at Holy Spirit School, Fairfield Christian School and at Tater Tots Christian Kindergarten in Fairfield; at Kairos Public Charter School, Bethany Lutheran School and Notre Dame School in Vacaville and at Adventist Christian School in rural Vacaville; at Neighborhood Christian School in Dixon; and at St. Vincent Ferrer School, St. Basil School, North Hills Christian School and St. Catherine of Siena School in Vallejo.
Hybrid models, where children split time between in-class instruction and online learning, are in place at The Academy of 21st Century Learning in Vacaville and Sierra School of Solano County in rural Elmira; and at the Spectrum Center Schools and Programs and at P3 Academy in Fairfield.
Middle school students have returned to classrooms at Fairfield Christian School and at Neighborhood Christian School, and at Kairos Public Charter School in Vacaville.
Hybrid models are in place for middle-schoolers at the Spectrum Center Schools and Programs, The Academy of 21st Century Learning and at Sierra School of Solano County.
High school students at Fairfield Christian School have returned to the classroom. Hybrid high school programs are operating at the Spectrum Center Schools and Programs, at Sierra School of Solano County and at St. Patrick-St. Vincent High School in Vallejo.
Information about the status of instruction at the various schools is derived from a state website that launched this week.
Most people who have Covid-19 experience only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. Some people, especially older adults and those with underlying health problems, experience more severe illness such as pneumonia and at times, death.
The vast majority of people recover. The World Health Organization reports people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.
Glen Faison and Todd R. Hansen contributed to this report. This version adds Kairos Public Charter School to the list of those that have opened for in-person instruction at both the elementary and middle school levels.
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