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How COVID-19 Case Rates Factor into School Reopening Decisions

The Chula Vista Elementary School District uses the 14-day case rate number to guide decision-making in school reopening. The 14-day case rate provides the number of cases that were reported over the previous 14-day period, per 100,000 people. This metric is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in its Indicators for Dynamic School Decision-Making.

About one-third of the District continues in the “red” (latest data report - October 27), which CDC identifies as having the highest risk of transmission.  While in the red, the CDC recommends only limited in-person learning and services to students with the greatest needs. Our District currently provides such services to about 1,200 students in greatest need of resources through our Distance Learning Support Program. Once the District average case rate is below 200 (orange band), the District can offer the hybrid instructional model to students with the following mitigation strategies:

  • Some students participate in virtual learning and other students participate in in-person learning
  • Small, in-person classes, activities, and events
  • Cohorting; leveraging all available safe community spaces, including outdoor spaces; alternating schedules, and staggered schedules are applied rigorously
  • No mixing of groups of students (i.e., cohorts) and teachers throughout/across school days
  • Students and teachers do not share objects
  • Students, teachers, and staff always follow all steps to protect themselves and others, including proper use of face masks, social distancing (6-feet separation), hand hygiene, and respiratory etiquette
  • Regularly scheduled cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched surfaces implemented consistently

On a weekly basis, the San Diego County Office of Education provides our District with updated case rates by zip code. The report identifies schools by zip code within our District boundary area. There are zip codes in our District that are consistently in the “orange” band, as well as zip codes consistently in the “red” band. We continue working closely with the San Diego County Office of Education and the San Diego County Department of Public Health in regard to local COVID-19 transmission rates. We are partnering with community organizations to assist in lowering transmission rates across our boundary area, but especially in the 91911 and 92154 zip codes.

Although our goal of a phased return to in-person instruction was proposed for October 26, 2020, our District took extra precautions and postponed reopening because the data did not support a return at that time. Our main focus now is to continue fortifying our reopening plan, working with our bargaining groups and stakeholders, to ensure a safe reopening when conditions allow at a future date.  

As our state, county and city continue their work in lowering rates, we also need all parents to support implementing health and safety guidelines in our local communities, i.e. avoid large gatherings, wear masks, following distancing and hand-washing recommendations at all times.

The San Diego County Office of Education’s 14-day case rate dashboard illustrates how CDC indicators assess COVID-19 risk at the local level—and how school implementation of key mitigation strategies can guide school reopening decisions. We invite you to view SDCOE’s narrated PowerPoint presentation below.


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