The link between in-person school attendance and a spike in coronavirus cases is still missing, according to a top California health official.
For several weeks, students in California counties where coronavirus numbers are low have been allowed to attend in-person classes, as long as social distancing and other rules are followed.
The result, according to Dr. Mark Ghaly, California’s Health and Human Services secretary, has been spectacularly unspectacular.
“We have not seen a connection between increased transmission and school reopening or in-person learning,” Ghaly told reporters Tuesday, according to The Associated Press. “We’re looking at the information to see if there is a connection, and so far we have not found one.”
“We want to act responsibly but, so far, it’s encouraging to see the tremendous effort and planning that communities and their schools and their staff have done to make sure that it’s lower risk for students and staff alike,” Ghaly also said, KABC-TV reported. “We’re seeing [those] fruits early on, and I think that’s encouraging for all of California.”
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As of Tuesday, schools in 32 of California’s 58 counties were able to hold in-person classes. That was up from 28 counties the week before.
Desert Christian Academy in Palm Desert has been open for more than a month and has had no issues.
“You can educate in person the way a student needs education to be experienced and you can mitigate for this very, very challenging virus,” assistant principal Kirk Scott told KESQ-TV.
Yuba County, which is north of San Francisco, was preparing to reopen now that it has met the thresholds to do so, Superintendent of Schools Francisco Reveles said.
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“We’re in a different environment now,” he told the AP. “Even though we can open up, there’s certain precautions we need to continue taking.”
His district will likely have some students attend in the morning while others attend in the afternoon.
Los Angeles County has been on remote instruction since the start of classes, but is now considering applications from schools that want to open transitional kindergarten through second grade classes for in-person learning.
Students in San Ramon Valley High School protested against remote learning last week. They want to return to in-person classes now that other restrictions in Contra Costa County have eased up.
“It’s way harder to learn on a computer screen. I can’t ask a question as easily, I can’t go [and speak to teachers] after class as easily, I can’t see my counselor as easily I have to set up all these meetings,” senior Jacob Ludwig told KABC.
San Ramon Valley Unified Schools Superintendent John Malloy indicated schools in the district will resume in-person learning to some degree on Jan. 5.
“All that we are saying to our community now that we’re in the red tier is we get it, we understand,” he said. “And we’re going to try and figure it out fast. It’s not fast enough for some — it’s too fast for others.”
The district will allow families to choose next month whether they want their children to return when schools open in January, or remain on remote learning.
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