Alameda County Elementary School Potentially Plan for Reopening


Alameda County

Alameda County released a handbook detailing guidelines and suggestions for reopening schools

On Sept. 22, Alameda County moved from the purple tier (widespread) to the red tier (substantial), and now the orange tier (moderate)  following a slight decrease in the number of new COVID-19 cases every day which has allowed elementary schools to begin reopening after Oct. 13. 

The Alameda County Public Health Department (ACPHD) released an order stating that districts have the option to begin reopening elementary schools, however middle schools and high schools will be considered for reopening a few months from now. Upon reporting their decision to the Alameda County Health Care Services, schools will be required to post their reopening plans to their school or district websites. Following the order, the Alameda County Superintendent of Schools and the Alameda County Health Officer have created a handbook detailing county recommendations in regards to reopening schools.

In terms of what scheduling will look like, schools will most likely follow the hybrid model that was considered by FUSD over the summer. For elementary school students, two plans were proposed. In the first plan, students would be divided into groups of ten, and each group would be in the classroom for instruction once a week. In the second potential plan, two groups will be in the classroom twice a week, and the third group will continue with distance learning with a separate teacher. For high schools, the first plan was to divide students into groups of three, and each group would attend school once a week for either a 1-6 period day, or a block day. The second plan consisted of two groups of students going to school twice a week with one day reserved for conferences, staff meetings, and flex hours.

This falls in line with ACPHD recommendations that schools maintain small and stable cohorts for at least three to four weeks within classrooms and that substitute teachers for each class remain consistent as well. Within classrooms, all students and staff are required to wear face coverings, and desks should stay six feet apart as well as positioned in a way to reduce contact between students. Each student should use their own school supplies, and certain shared items should be sanitized between uses. It is recommended that teachers sanitize desks between cohorts, and that bathrooms are cleaned frequently throughout the day. Child care services in schools will be permitted to open, and playgrounds can be used, although it is recommended that cohorts do not mix. Outdoor band practices will be allowed, and students can also check out books from the library. 

In regards to testing, all students, parents, and staff members are expected to check their temperature at home before entering school premises. If not, there should be a station to check temperature at school, and it is recommended that there be two separate entrances for people who have already taken their temperature and those who have not. The frequency of testing for staff members depends on the district. Possible schedules include testing a quarter of the staff every two weeks, or providing testing for half the staff every month 

Upon reopening, a class, school, or district will close under certain conditions. A classroom will close if five percent of the students have tested positive for COVID-19. A school will shut down if 5% of the students have tested positive. A district will close if in one in four of the schools, five percent of the students test positive. After closing, the class, school, or district will have to undergo a fourteen day quarantine period before they are permitted to return to school. Additionally, if the Alameda County returns to the purple tier, schools are not required to close because testing will be available. However, if a school is about to open, then they must remain closed until Alameda County returns and remains in the red tier for at least two weeks.

It is still unclear when or how schools in Fremont will open. The Fremont Unified School District will reveal more about their plans about the state of reopening in a board meeting on Nov. 12. 

To view past FUSD plans, click here.

To view the reopening handbook, click here.