CDPH requiring masks for SSUSD K-12 students, staff

CDPH requiring masks for SSUSD K-12 students, staffSierra Sands Unified School District, David Ostash SSUSD Supt. The beginning of the 2021-22 school year is near. We are excited about the first day of instruction for students on August 10th. The school year will begin in person and with a regular daily schedule. This includes the implementation of recess as usual at the Elementary level and the implementation of regular passing period protocols at the Secondary level. As we get closer to the first day of school we will continue to provide you with information to assist you and our students to be prepared for a successful and safe start.

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) recently released guidance for all K-12 schools.

It mandates that all staff and all students wear face coverings in indoor settings when students are present, regardless of vaccination status (unless an individual meets the exemption criteria also outlined by CDPH in the guidance).

It requires, if an individual has a documented exemption, submission of documentation to the school or District health office where they will be issued a non-restrictive alternative.

It also provides that the use of face coverings is optional in outdoor settings for students and staff members.

Last week, the Superintendents representing all school districts in the County participated in a meeting with officials of the Kern County Department of Public Health (KCDPH). It was made clear to all Superintendents that the face-covering guidance stated above is indeed a requirement and school districts and/or Boards of Education do not have the authority to change the guidance.

CDPH has determined that by mandating indoor masking, districts can now relax other guidelines from last year. According to CDPH we can now fully open our schools with no capacity restrictions in key areas such as classrooms, cafeterias, and buses. We are pleased that we can fully open and serve our students with all our academic, co-curricular, and extra-curricular programs.

COVID-19 Vaccinations

Unfortunately, there is misinformation regarding the COVID-19 vaccinations being shared in the public sphere, especially on social media. Please be advised:

Employees are not required to get the vaccination in order to report to work. The decision to be vaccinated is completely the individual decision of staff members.

Students are not required to have the COVID-19 vaccination in order to attend school.

There is no process in place to require students to reveal if they have been vaccinated or not. The decision for a student to receive the vaccine is solely a parental/guardian decision.

The pandemic has created a lot of anxiety, frustration and at times, anger. We recognize that the mixed and ever-changing messages that have occurred at the Federal, State and Local level, and the discussions in the media, including social media, have created a lot of confusion. The District has experienced similar frustration as we are expected to be responsive to the changes as they occur.

Out of frustration, some members of the community request that the District overlook mandates issued by Government agencies. We do not have the authority to act against a law or health department directive. Failure to follow the law or public health mandate could result in liability for our District.

Safety has and will continue to be our highest priority. We will work diligently to maintain a safe, healthy and comfortable learning environment for staff and students. Please know that Sierra Sands is fully committed to serving our community by supporting in person learning with the least restrictions possible that ensure both safety and learning comfort.

Together we have, and will continue, to navigate our way through all of this to successfully serve our students. We are all looking forward to our full return to school on August 10.

Story First Published: 2021-07-30