MARIN COUNTY, CA — Marin County’s Office of Education and Public Health Department jointly recommended Wednesday that TK-12 schools reopen gradually in the fall with new protocols to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“Our goal is to support the health and wellbeing of students and staff during this process,” Marin County Superintendent of Schools Mary Jane Burke said in the statement. “We recognize the concerns and anxiety surrounding the return to the classroom and believe that a transitional approach will allow staff and students to feel more comfortable in this new environment.”
Districts can bring small groups of students into the classroom to get to know their new classroom environment and conduct academic and emotional assessments. Teachers can also meet with students individually or in small groups. In-person classroom instruction, however, may begin no sooner than Sept. 8.
The phased-in approach is in response to rising COVID-19 cases in Marin and across the region, including among young people, but also aims to prepare students and staff to eventually be in schools full time, the two departments said in a joint statement.
Public health officials reported another coronavirus-related death Wednesday, bringing the county’s death toll to 29. Officials also reported 53 new COVID-19 cases, raising the county’s total case count to 1,909.
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“We still have hope that we can bring students back into schools full time, but with the current spikes we’re seeing in Marin County and across the region, we need more time,” Dr. Matt Willis, the county’s public health officer, said in the statement.
“We’ve been watching the data closely. If we open when community transmission is high, we may have to close classrooms more frequently, which could be even more disruptive.”
Online community discussions about the county’s school reopening guidelines are planned on Thursday this week and next Thursday, July 23, on the Marin County Office of Education’s Rethinking Schools website.
Marin County special education and alternative education classes reopened on May 18 under the guidance of Public Health.
This article originally appeared on the San Rafael Patch