‘Orange County Together’ guide provides recommendations for safely reopening local schools

Orange County Together graphic that reads: Representatives from the Orange County Department of Education and school districts across the county have developed a comprehensive guide with recommendations for reopening more than 600 local schools.

While locally elected school boards and superintendents will approve and implement plans specific to their districts, “Orange County Together: A guide to safely reopening schools in the COVID-19 era” is a web-based resource with detailed considerations for resuming in-person instruction complemented by online learning. It’s based on guidance from the state Department of Public Health and has been approved by Orange County’s health officer.

Included are recommendations for promoting behaviors proven to reduce transmission of the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, including best practices for healthy hygiene and face coverings, which are advised when social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.

There are also strategies for maintaining healthy environments with enhanced cleaning and limited sharing of supplies and equipment, as well as recommended practices for promoting healthy operations with smaller cohorts, modified layouts and staggered scheduling as feasible.

The guide, which aligns with materials produced by the California Department of Education and the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, concludes with procedures to follow if a student or staff member gets sick.

“With recommendations for classroom space, cleaning, food service, promoting healthy hygiene and other areas, this site should be considered a guide for districts, in concert with stakeholders, to make decisions that best meet their local needs,” Orange County Superintendent Al Mijares said.

“It should also be seen as a living resource, because we know new data and circumstances are likely to arise that will require us to rethink assumptions and modify plans,” Mijares said. “But make no mistake, this roadmap to recovery leverages an array of collective knowledge with the goal of returning students to safe, welcoming and equitable learning environments.”

The “Orange County Together” guide is the product of multidisciplinary collaboration from staff members who oversee educational services, health, business services, human resources, and maintenance and operations divisions throughout Orange County. Its development was also supported by representatives from the OC Health Care Agency, CHOC Children’s and UCI.

The resource can be accessed at link.ocde.us/oc-together or by clicking the graphic at the top of the page.

For a clickable one-page summary, or to watch the 30-minute webinar that was held on June 24, scroll down below.

Orange County Together doc