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August 15, 2020

Distance learning for all Santa Cruz County students in fall

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY—Every school district in Santa Cruz County will be required to begin the 2020-21 school year with distance learning, Santa Cruz County Superintendent of Schools Faris Sabbah announced Monday.

The announcement came after the county on Monday met California Department of Public Health’s criteria for the Covid-19 monitoring list.

An order put in place on Friday by Gov. Gavin Newsom mandates that all counties who qualify for the CDPH Covid-19 Monitoring List to continue with distance learning until they are able to remain off the list for 14 consecutive days. 

The CDPH Monitoring List criteria is determined by elevated levels in the areas of disease transmission, increasing hospitalization and limited hospital capacity specific to each county. Santa Cruz County has not yet been officially placed on the list, but it does meet the criteria, Sabbah said.

“Therefore, school districts, charter schools and private schools will now be required to provide distance learning only instructional services,” Sabbah stated in a press release. 

The announcement comes as most school districts work on remote learning options for their students independent of the county office’s mandate.

Pajaro Valley Unified School District recently announced a distance-only model, which will go before the Board of Trustees for final approval on July 29.

SCCOE has been working with local superintendents on guidelines that will allow students to return to the classroom “when local public health conditions allow,” Sabbah said.

That document has been approved by the Santa Cruz County Public Health Department and is applicable to all K-12 schools, public or private, throughout Santa Cruz County. View the Full Reopening Framework for Santa Cruz County Schools here

“The Covid-19 pandemic has presented tremendous challenges to our education system and to the students and families that our schools serve, bearing disproportionate challenges for our most vulnerable youth,” Sabbah said. “Santa Cruz County schools recognize that the rapid emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic and sudden changes it has imposed on families has been extremely disruptive and a source of significant hardship.”

The transition to in-person education will include limited, small group in-class learning opportunities for students. 

Essential services such as meal and grocery programs, social and emotional support services and free and reduced-cost internet connectivity will continue for students and families throughout the extended school closures. 

Parents can expect to be contacted by their child’s school for specific information and resources pertaining to their distance learning as the first day of school draws nearer.

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For Santa Cruz County Covid-19 data and resources for how to prevent the spread of illness, visit santacruzhealth.org/coronavirus.

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