Getting Back to School Safely

  • July 23, 2021

Dr. Deneen Guss, Monterey County Superintendent of Schools
Dr. Melissa Nothnagle, Natividad Chief of Family Medicine

After being in distance learning mode most of the last school year, we are excited to have students, teachers, and staff back together in our school communities. It’s something we’ve all missed deeply, and we understand how vital in-person teaching and learning is for our children and our educators.

We’ve made much progress in building our defenses against COVID-19, but we are not out of the woods. So, we are appealing to all of you who have children in our schools or who work in our schools to do everything in your power to ensure we have safe and healthy environments where our children can flourish. The safety and well-being of students, teachers, and our staff is a top priority.

First, we strongly recommend COVID-19 vaccinations for everyone that is 12 and over and that younger students be vaccinated as soon as they are eligible. Vaccinating both parents and children can help us reach herd immunity and protect against the mental and physical effects of lockdowns and other restrictions. We expect the Pfizer vaccine to be authorized for children 5 to 11 by the end of this year or early 2022. We have a plentiful supply of vaccines here in Monterey County. Check for details and clinic information.

Vaccination is our best shot at stopping the devastation of this pandemic and the best way to protect our children from more dangerous variants. It’s also our way to get back to the things we all love to do, get children back to school and keep our schools open.

Second, following recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has mandated that all students, teachers, and staff in California public schools wear masks during all indoor activities regardless of vaccination status. Masking is optional for outdoor activities. We understand that not all individuals support the masking requirement. Still, we believe it is in the best interest of all community members during this COVID-19 surge. If you’re a parent, please help your children prepare for this requirement and encourage acceptance.

Third, California now requires all teachers to get vaccinated or undergo weekly testing. While nearly 90% of educators statewide are currently vaccinated, the rising spread of more contagious variants makes the mandate necessary. Schools must be in full compliance with this policy by October 15. Students are presently not required to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

We all have an important role to play in getting our children back to the learning environment they want, need and deserve. It will take all of us working together to end this pandemic. We appreciate your help making our schools and our communities as safe and healthy as possible.