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What is California's role in reopening schools amid coronavirus?

Tuesday's assembly meeting addressed concerns regarding the state's role in reopening schools with the coronavirus pandemic still very much active.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Under the California COVID-19 tier system for reopening, schools can begin in-person learning again once a county has entered the red tier for two weeks

The state lists 12 steps schools must abide by to reopen safely during the pandemic, including a worksite-specific COVID-19 prevention plan, promoting healthy hygiene practices, training staff on how to check for signs and symptoms of COVID-19, and to have a plan if someone tests positive.

During Tuesday's assembly hearing, Legislative Analyst Amy Li said the state can do more to support school districts when it comes to implementing their reopening plan.

"First the state can provide more tailor technical assistance to schools on reopening plans and implementation of those plans. This includes on-site or virtual consultations from state public health officials and perhaps this can help build confidence in teachers, parents, and staff that schools can reopen safely" Li said.

California is one of the 11 states that do not report any school-level COVID-19 data. Li said the state can use school-specific data to inform decision making for the districts starting with tracking and reporting COVID-19 cases.

"Lastly, the state can provide clearer guidance on COVID-19 testing. This could include supporting outside collaborations that allow schools to develop testing plans and access routine testing," Li said.

Dr. Erica Pan California with the California Department of Public Health said the state already gives guidance on what to do if there is a COVID-19 outbreak, and will be adding guidance for schools as they make their reopening plans.

"The upcoming guidance we will outline what is the role of the school, what is the role of the local health department, what to do when a specific cohort is potentially exposed, and what are criteria for closing,” Pan said.

“Some of these potential actions are resource-heavy, and they might involve sending state staff to schools or working with schools more closely for COVID-19 testing, that may include more funding,” Li said.

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