CSAC Bulletin Article

New Guidance Regarding Education and Childcare

August 27, 2020

The California Department of Public Health released new guidance allowing necessary in-person child supervision and limited instruction, targeted support services, and facilitation of distance learning in “pods” of up to 14 children and two adults in all schools. The guidance also provides instruction on returning to work or school following a COVID-19 diagnosis and additional child care guidance.

The new guidance applies to all schools in all counties, regardless of whether a county is on the state’s Active Data Monitoring list. The state recommends that the guidance be used only for necessary educational services, including special education services.

  • Each cohort, or small group, may include up to two specific supervising adults and must stay together for all group activities, including meals and recreation. Contact with other cohorts is prohibited.
  • The small cohorts for children and youth applies to controlled, supervised, indoor environments operated by licensed child care facilities, licensed exempt child care programs, supervised programs on a school site while a school is not in session or is providing curriculum in a distance-learning format, or where some educational services are being offered to a subgroup of students as identified by a local educational agency on a school campus. This new guidance adds to and does not supersede existing guidance in place for schools, child care, day camps, youth sports, and institutions of higher education.
  • The state prefers each cohort to be as small as possible to help limit any COVID-19 transmission. One-to-one specialized services may be provided to a child by a support service provider that is not part of the child’s cohort.
  • All the regular physical distancing, face covering for children above third grade, and hygienic practices must be followed, as well. 

Read the new guidance here.


Returning to Work or School After COVID-19

For those who have a diagnosis of COVID-19, the state is pivoting to the CDC’s “time and symptoms” framework for assessing when it is safe to return to school and work with new guidance. For individuals who test positive and have experienced symptoms, they may return to work or school if:

  • At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared, AND
  • At least 24 hours have passed with no fever without use of fever-reducing medications, AND
  • Other symptoms have improved.

For individuals who test positive for COVID-19 but never develop symptoms, they may return to work or school 10 days after the date of their first positive COVID-19 test.

Please note that these guidelines do not apply to those who work in health care settings.


Additional Day Care Guidance

The state also modified child care guidance to address contact management. The new guidance released today builds upon existing state child care facility guidance for all group care facilities for children who are not yet in kindergarten through elementary school. This includes child care centers, child development facilities, family child care homes, and preschools (including transitional Kindergartens, pre-Kindergartens and Kindergartens that are part of preschool programs or are independent of both preschool and elementary school programs).

The guidance recommends closure of a facility if cases have been identified in more than one cohort/class/group, or for family child care homes, when exclusion of the individual from the home is not possible (i.e. the provider or family member living on site). A child care facility that closes must clean/disinfect and consult with the local health department before reopening. 

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