Dear AUSD Community,
With the start of a new school year less than two weeks away (August 17), we are looking forward to welcoming back our students and staff for full-time, in-person instruction this year. I want to provide you with some important updates to help you and your student(s) prepare.
Vaccinations Are Free and Easily Available
COVID-19 vaccinations are the best way to avoid this dangerous disease and to keep classrooms open. Children 12 and over are eligible and the vaccine is free, you do not need to have insurance. Locally, Safeway, Lucky, CVS, Walgreens, and Costco all offer the shot. See this webpage for more information and locations. AUSD will be hosting a pop-up clinic shortly after the vaccine is approved for younger children.
Update On COVID Safety Protocols On AUSD School Campuses
The state of California updated its guidance for schools on July 12th. District staff have been working to update our guidelines for our August 17th start of classes, and we would like to share the following rules and procedures about masking, quarantining, and other safety measures. We fully expect to update these rules as the state's guidelines continue to evolve, and as public health conditions—including the spread of the Delta variant—continue to change.
Masks: Masks will be required for all students and staff when they are indoors at school. This includes classrooms, hallways, and all other indoor space. At the Albany Children’s Center; Cornell, Marin, and Ocean View elementary schools; and Albany Middle School, where many or all students are too young to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, students will also be required to wear masks when they are outdoors, including at recess. High school students are strongly encouraged to wear masks outside. Masks will be available at school for students who arrive without them.
Meals: Meals will take place outside as the weather permits, and students will be distanced to the extent possible during this period.
Social Distancing: There are no longer social distancing requirements for schools. AUSD recommends that teachers and staff increase distance between students when it is possible. Students will continue to be asked to socially distance to the maximum extent possible when they remove their masks for eating or drinking.
Screening for Symptoms: This year, families will be required to screen their children for COVID symptoms each day before coming to school using a symptom list provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). A child with symptoms must stay home and should be tested for COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status. Rapid testing is available at all of our schools.
Positive Cases on Campus: AUSD will continue to closely track cases of COVID-19 on our campuses and follow all state quarantining and reporting requirements. Families are expected to comply with all quarantining rules in the event that their child is determined to have been exposed to a COVID-positive individual. Positive cases on school campuses will continue to be reported on AUSD's Confirmed On-Site COVID-19 Case Dashboard.
COVID Testing: AUSD will begin to provide COVID pool testing at all of our school sites. This voluntary program will allow us to be proactive in screening for COVID-19 in our classrooms. Additional information will be sent to families who wish to participate in this pooled testing program next week. We are awaiting guidelines from the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) about testing requirements for athletics.
Quarantining: The rules for quarantining are now different for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals:
- Vaccinated students who are asymptomatic do not need to quarantine after close contact with a COVID-positive person.
- Unvaccinated students must quarantine after a close contact with a COVID-positive individual, but if both the person positive for COVID-19 and the contact were masked and at school during the exposure, the close contact may continue to attend school for in-person instruction if they:
(1) Are asymptomatic;
(2) Continue to appropriately mask, as required;
(3) Undergo at least twice-weekly testing for 10 days after exposure; and
(4) Refrain from participating in all group in-person activities (extracurricular activities at school, including sports; and in-person activities within the community setting);
(5) This constitutes a “modified quarantine” and is permissible under state and county guidelines.
- Please refer to this infographic in English, Spanish, and Chinese for visual representation of what to do if your child is showing symptoms or may have been exposed to COVID-19.
More Information Coming
The State has not yet provided guidance to school districts regarding athletics and music. Watch for information from your school regarding drop-off and pick-up instructions. Click here for more information about before/after-school care programs. Schools will also communicate directly regarding parent volunteerism.
Independent Study Option for K–12 Students Not Returning To Campus
We understand that some students may not return to in-person learning in August. New state law defines Independent Study as a permissible remote learning option in the 2021-2022 school year. However, Independent Study is not the robust remote option we had last year. The AUSD Board of Education will be holding a Special Meeting at 5:30pm on Tuesday, August 10 to consider a new Independent Study plan. The agenda is available here. To join the Zoom webinar: https://ausdk12-org.zoom.us/j/96977397193. You may also learn more about Independent Study through these resources:
- July 28 Letter to Community;
- AUSD Independent Study Option for 2021-2022 webpage;
- AUSD will host an Informational Town Hall on Thursday, August 12 at 6:00pm. All families in grades K-12 are welcome to attend via Zoom: https://ausdk12-org.zoom.us/j/95654323388.
Stay hopeful and encouraged,
Dr. Frank Wells
Superintendent of Schools
Albany Unified School District