COVID-19 Vaccine Information
For the latest information on who is eligible to receive a dose of COVID-19 vaccine and how to schedule an appointment, please visit sccfreevax.org. This is the County’s official source for vaccine-related information and is updated frequently.
Information on the State of California’s COVID-19 vaccination guidance and prioritization plan is also available.
Education Programs Include Childcare, Preschools, Camps, TK-12, Higher Education and Other Programs Serving Children and Youth
Welcome education program partners. The County Office of Education and County Public Health Department continue to work with schools, other programs serving children and youth, and families to prepare for the safer reopening of schools for in-person learning and operation of programs serving children and youth in Santa Clara County.
Report a Case of COVID-19 in Your Education Program
When to Use the Education Portal:
Complete this form if a child, student or staff member in your program is diagnosed with COVID-19 and they fall into one of the categories below.
If the child, student or staff member who tested positive for COVID-19 either:
- reported symptoms of COVID-19 while they were at work, school or on-site
- developed symptoms of COVID-19 within 48 hours of being at work, school or on site
- was diagnosed with COVID-19 without symptoms within 48 hours of being at work, school or on-site
Instructions for Filling out the Education Portal:
Please complete this Case and Contact Information Sheet for each diagnosed case of COVID-19 in a child or student attending your site and for each diagnosed case of COVID-19 in a staff member working at your site. Please include as much information as you can. Under the Health Officer Order and the Mandatory Directive for Case Reporting By K-12 Schools, Youth Athletic Programs, and Other Youth Programs, K-12 schools and youth programs are legally required to submit this report within twenty-four hours after learning of the positive case(s). If you do not have complete information within twenty-four hours, you must report the information that you have obtained. You may update the information you provide if you discover additional information after your initial report. The information you provide on this form will remain confidential and is not reported to law enforcement or immigration. Providing this information helps our local case investigation teams identify and slow the transmission of COVID-19 in our in-person education settings and the community. Thank you for your cooperation.
An Education Reporting Portal Worksheet is provided to assist case/contact reporters in collecting the information that needs to be submitted in the portal. It outlines all possible questions, but note that not all may be relevant to the case/contact you are reporting. (When entering information into the portal, the system will automatically lead you through the appropriate questions for your report.) IMPORTANT: This is not an alternative to using the online reporting portal and is for preparation purposes only. ALL CASES/CONTACTS MUST BE SUBMITTED VIA THE PORTAL LINK BELOW.
Current Guidance for TK-12 School District Superintendents, School Boards, And Other School Administration Leaders
The reporting reference guide lists documents by type and whether the document type is required or recommended. Each entry includes a brief description, submission deadlines, and a link to access the form.
For more instructions on how to fill out the School Preparedness Plan Reporting Form, please visit the School Preparedness Plan Instructions page.
- K-12 COVID-19 Childhood Transmission Scientific Summary
- COVID-19 Prepared: Reopening Santa Clara County K-12 Schools for the 2020-2021 School Year – December 14, 2020 (Effective February 26, 2021, the “requirements” in this document are no longer mandatory and should be interpreted as recommended best practices, unless otherwise required by the State in State-issued materials PDF: | English | Chinese | Spanish | Vietnamese | Tagalog |
- Template Letter Scenario 2: Close Contact in a Cohort Setting: | English | Chinese | Spanish | Vietnamese | Tagalog |
- Template Letter Scenario 2: Close Contact in a Non-Cohort Setting: | English | Chinese | Spanish | Vietnamese | Tagalog
- Template Letter Scenario 3: COVID-19 Case in a Cohort Setting: | English | Chinese | Spanish | Vietnamese | Tagalog |
- Template Letter Scenario 3: COVID-19 Case in a Non-Cohort Setting: | English | Chinese | Spanish | Vietnamese | Tagalog |
- Learn more about these template letters
- California Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 and Reopening In-Person Instruction Framework & Public Health Guidance for K-12 Schools in California, 2020-2021 School Year
- California Department of Public Health’s Guidance Related to Cohorts – September 4, 2020
- California Department of Public Health’s FAQs on Providing Targeted, Specialized Support and Services – September 4, 2020
COVID-19 Designee Toolkit
Each school/school district has a COVID-19 Designee, who is the person appointed as a communication link between the schools and the Public Health Department. Please visit the COVID-19 Designee Toolkit page for all resources needed by COVID-19 Designees in their support of the COVID-19 response in schools.
Resources for Parents
Current Guidance for Childcare Programs, Preschools, Camps, and Other Programs Serving Children and Youth
- Template Letters: When a Student/Child or Staff Member in a Cohort Has Been in Close Contact with a COVID-19 Case: | English | Chinese | Spanish | Vietnamese | Tagalog |
- Template Letters: When a Student/Child or Staff Member in a Cohort Tests Positive for COVID-19: | English | Chinese | Spanish | Vietnamese | Tagalog |
- Learn more about these template letters
- State of California’s COVID-19 UPDATE GUIDANCE: Child Care Programs and Providers – July 17, 2020
- State of California’s COVID-19 UPDATE GUIDANCE: Day Camps – July 29, 2020
- California Department of Public Health’s Guidance on Outdoor and Indoor Youth and Recreational Adult Sports – February 19, 2021
Frequently Asked Questions for TK-12 and Programs Serving Children or Youth
(Note: Each FAQ is followed by a parenthetical indicating whether the FAQ applies to TK-12 schools, programs for children or youth, or both.)
School Reopening for TK-12
When can schools reopen for in-person instruction? (TK-12)
Under the State’s COVID-19 and Reopening In-Person Instruction Framework & Public Health Guidance for K-12 Schools in California, 2020-2021 School Year, schools may reopen for in-person instruction for all grades TK-12 if the county’s adjusted case rate, as calculated by the State, is less than 25 per 100,000 population per day. All schools must complete and post a COVID-19 Safety Plan to their website homepage before reopening for in-person instruction, as described in the CSP Posting and Submission Requirements for In-Person Instruction section of the State’s guidance. Schools that have reopened are not required to close if the county moves to the Purple Tier or goes over an adjusted case rate of 25 per 100,000 population.
If a school is open for in-person instruction, what criteria will be used to decide when to close a school? (TK-12)
The State’s COVID-19 and Reopening In-Person Instruction Framework & Public Health Guidance for K-12 Schools in California, 2020-2021 School Year indicates that the following situations may indicate a need for school closure:
- Within a 14-day period, an outbreak has occurred in 25% or more stable groups in the school.
- Within a 14-day period, at least three outbreaks have occurred in the school AND more than 5% of the school population is infected.
However, the State’s guidance also recognizes that school closures should be made in consultation with the local health officer. The local health officer may determine school closure is warranted for other reasons, including results from public health investigation or other local epidemiological data.
Factors that the County of Santa Clara Health Officer may consider in school closure decisions include, but are not limited to, the number of COVID-19 cases associated with a school; a school’s ability to effectively respond to COVID-19 cases and exposures; the daily count of new COVID-19 cases in Santa Clara County; the degree to which schools are contributing to community spread of COVID-19; the capacity of our health system to identify and care for cases and prevent transmission in healthcare settings; the availability and use of widespread testing to identify new cases; county residents’ ability to quickly and effectively isolate or quarantine themselves when sick; evolving scientific understanding of COVID-19; and our community’s continued cooperation in practicing physical distancing, using face coverings, and taking other preventive measures.
Instruction for TK-12
What guidelines should high schools follow for PSAT, SAT, or ACT exams being held on their campuses? (TK-12)
High schools hosting PSAT, SAT, or ACT examinations are encouraged to follow as many of the recommendations as possible in COVID-19 PREPARED: Reopening of Santa Clara County K-12 Schools for the 2020-2021 School Year. These recommendations include, but are not limited to, screening students on the day of the exam for COVID-19 symptoms, maximizing physical distancing, and ensuring that students and staff are wearing face coverings at all times.
Cohorting and Distancing
Is there a maximum cohort size for in-person instruction? (TK-12)
The Public Health Department does not require schools to adopt a maximum cohort size, but it strongly encourages schools to make stable classroom cohorts as small as practicable. Smaller cohorts reduce the number of contacts between students and staff, but there is no specific optimal cohort size. In practice, schools may need to limit the number of students in each cohort to meet other public health requirements. Schools should weigh their specific circumstances for providing instruction (e.g., classroom size and staffing resources), use of various mitigation strategies (e.g., ventilation, instructional activities outdoors, and face covering use), grade levels, and educational needs of students when determining an appropriate cohort size.
What is the recommendation for how to serve students with disabilities who are receiving in-person instruction? (TK-12)
The County recommends that schools train staff and students to maintain at least six feet of distance from each other as much as possible during educational instruction (e.g., during whole-class instruction, presentation, or lecture). For special education instructors and aides and healthcare personnel, a surgical mask and face shield is recommended when providing services to students which requires repeated close contact interactions (e.g., assistance with activities of daily living) or conducting health assessments (including vision and hearing screening). Gloves should be worn as recommended for procedures which require universal precautions (e.g., toileting assistance, catheterization, and insulin administration). In addition, PPE for potential aerosol generating procedures (e.g., suctioning of tracheostomy sites and nebulizer treatments) should follow CDC guidance.
What protocol should substitute teachers adhere to if they are teaching an in-person class for a day? (TK-12)
Substitute teachers providing coverage for teachers who are absent should maintain at least six feet of distance from students and other staff as much as possible during educational instruction (e.g., during whole-class instruction, presentation, or lecture). If possible, schools should limit the number of stable cohorts that substitute teachers interact with by assigning certain substitutes to specific schools
What is the guidance on breakrooms?
The Health Officer recommends that use of indoor breakrooms by unvaccinated staff be minimized as much as possible. Unvaccinated employees should preferably eat outside, alone in their vehicles or alone at their own desk/workspaces. Employers are strongly encouraged to take steps to encourage these safety measures (for example, by staggering break times and/or setting up outdoor areas where employees can eat and stay at least six feet apart from one another). If unvaccinated employees want to eat with coworkers, they should do so outdoors and distanced more than six feet apart from each other.
Parents, especially those of younger children, will want to be in the classroom. Can this be accommodated at all? (TK-12; Programs for Children/Youth)
Generally, no. Schools may only allow necessary visitors and volunteers on campus and must limit the number of students and staff who come in contact with them. The limiting of visitors is critical to limiting the risk of COVID-19 transmission in the classroom.
Who is responsible for enforcing face covering requirements? (TK-12)
Schools are responsible for ensuring students required to wear face coverings comply with those requirements. Per the County’s May 18, 2021 Public Health Order, individuals and businesses need to continue face mask requirements as directed by the State. This includes indoor masking for fully vaccinated people in most situations outside of the home.
At what AQI level should longer, passive activities (such as prolonged instruction) be moved indoors? (TK-12; Programs for Children/Youth)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommend that unusually sensitive people consider reducing prolonged or heavy exertion when the Air Quality Index (AQI) is between 51-100 and that all children and teenagers reduce prolonged or heavy exertion when the AQI is above 100. However, there are no specific guidelines for the AQI thresholds for moving passive activity (such as outdoor educational instruction) indoors.
We recommend moving longer, passive activities (e.g., prolonged outdoor educational instruction) indoors when the AQI is 101 or higher. Windows and doors should be kept closed when the AQI is 101 or higher.
At what AQI level should short periods of outdoor activity be moved indoors? (TK-12; Programs for Children/Youth)
The CDC and EPA recommend that unusually sensitive people consider reducing prolonged or heavy exertion when the AQI is between 51-100 and that all children and teenagers reduce prolonged or heavy exertion when the AQI is above 100.
We recommend cancelling, rescheduling, or moving indoors all activities (active and passive, regardless of duration) when the AQI is 151 or higher. Windows and doors should be kept closed when the AQI is 101 or higher.
At what AQI level should schools consider closing and moving to remote instruction? (TK-12; Programs for Children/Youth)
There is no established cut-off level for air quality for school dismissals or closures. There is no clear evidence that children are safer from poor air quality at home than at school. Parents of students who have longer outdoor transit times to and from school, where they may have greater exposure, may consider alternative methods for transportation or keeping their child home even if the school remains open.
Two important mechanisms for decreasing risk of COVID-19 disease transmission in schools is to conduct educational instruction outdoors and to open doors and windows when indoors. If students must remain indoors with windows and doors closed due to poor air quality, then other measures to reduce risk of COVID-19 transmission become increasingly important including mechanical ventilation and filtration, portable air filters, and masking.
Are there recommendations for minimizing exposure to unhealthy air during pickup/dropoff (e.g., health screenings before arrival) (TK-12; Programs for Children/Youth)
When the AQI is 101 or higher, health screenings (if performed on campus) should be conducted upon arrival in the classroom/building rather than having students and staff waiting outdoors for screening. Schools may also consider having health screenings conducted before arriving on campus.
Are portable air purifiers helpful in reducing exposure to smoke or COVID-19 transmission risk? (TK-12; Programs for Children/Youth)
Portable air purifiers can provide additional protection from smoke exposure, depending on the type of filter used (high efficiency filtration) and the clean air delivery rate (CADR). Multiple devices per classroom may be necessary. For more information, please see the County’s Guidance for Ventilation and Air Filtration Systems.
Where can I learn more about the Air Quality Index? (TK-12; Programs for Children/Youth)
- Air Quality and Outdoor Activity Guidance for Schools (from EPA, CDC, on the Air Now website)
- Air Quality Index: A Guide to Air Quality and Your Health (from EPA, on the Air Now website)
Cleaning, Hygiene, and Other Safety Measures
Are water fountains safe to drink from or should they only be used to fill bottles? (TK-12; Programs for Children/Youth)
Schools and programs should suspend or modify use of water fountains to minimize students’ and staff’s sharing or touching items, while maintaining access to drinking water.
How can schools obtain adequate supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE), such as hand sanitizer or face coverings? (TK-12)
The State of California provided an initial distribution of PPE for school districts and charter schools to use for the first 60 days of school campus reopening. For schools’ additional PPE needs, the State of California has partnered with the California Manufacturers & Technology Association to launch the “Safely Making California” marketplace, which provides non-medical grade PPE, such as face masks, face shields, gowns, gloves, sanitizer and wipes, at discounted prices.
For a list of PPE recommendations by activity, refer to this table from the National Association of School Nurses.
COVID-19 Screening, Testing, Reporting, and Response
If my child has runny nose or congestion but no other symptoms of COVID-19, should he/she stay home from school? (TK-12)
Many school age children will have symptoms of runny nose throughout the school year due to a range of conditions. It would be unlikely for a child to experience runny nose as the only symptom of COVID-19, and preventing children with isolated runny nose from going to school would likely lead to unnecessary school absences. If a child has a runny nose but no other symptoms of COVID-19, it would be reasonable to allow that child to go to school, provided the child does not develop any other symptoms of COVID-19 and is not a close contact to a COVID-19 case.
Do people who have been vaccinated still need to quarantine if they were exposed to someone with COVID-19?
According to CDC’s definition, people are considered fully vaccinated:
- ≥14 days following receipt of the second dose in a 2-dose vaccine series (such as Pfizer or Moderna), or
- ≥14 days following receipt of one dose of a single-dose vaccine (such as Johnson & Johnson)
Fully vaccinated individuals are recommended to follow CDC guidance. In general, fully vaccinated individuals who have been exposed to COVID-19 case and are asymptomatic do not need to quarantine or get tested. Exceptions and other considerations may apply. Please see CDC webpage and Quarantine Guidance for Fully Vaccinated People for more information.
What does the May 18, 2021 Public Health Order say about ascertaining vaccination status?
Businesses must (1) ascertain employee and volunteer vaccination status within 14 days. (2) ensure that unvaccinated employees and volunteers working onsite mask (3) ensure that unvaccinated employees and volunteers quarantine if they are identified as a close contact to a case, and (4) provide vaccination information to all unvaccinated employees.
Should families who have traveled out of state be required to quarantine before returning to school? (TK-12; Programs for Children/Youth)
The Mandatory Directive on Travel is no longer in effect. Fully vaccinated individuals are recommended to follow CDC guidance for domestic and international travel. In general for domestic travel, fully vaccinated individuals who do not have COVID-19 symptoms do not need to get tested before or after travel or quarantine after travel. For international travel, fully vaccinated individuals should follow CDC recommendations and may still need to test or quarantine depending on requirements issued by the destination authority.
For individuals who have not been fully vaccinated, non-essential travel should still be avoided to reduce the risk of virus transmission. Non-vaccinated travelers should still get tested before and after travel, and quarantine after travel, unless traveling for essential purposes. Please see CDPH Travel Advisory for detailed guidance.
Further, per the County’s May 18, 2021 Public Health Order, schools should prohibit work-related travel for unvaccinated employees.
If a symptomatic student or staff person provides a medical note in lieu of a negative COVID-19 test result, what should the medical note state? (TK-12)
If a symptomatic individual who is not a close contact to a confirmed COVID-19 case seeks medical evaluation but is not tested for COVID-19, he or she can return to school if the doctor provides a written explanation that includes the following: certification that a medical evaluation was completed and a statement that an alternative explanation for symptoms has been identified and that COVID-19 testing is not indicated.
Should all teachers and staff be routinely tested like those in other high exposure fields? (TK-12)
The County and the State both recommend routine testing of teachers and staff who are working on campus. Per the County’s May 18, 2021 Public Health Order, schools should conduct weekly PCR testing for COVID-19, or daily antigen testing with COVID PCR confirmation of any positives, for unvaccinated employees. The State’s recommended testing cadence can be found in the State’s COVID-19 and Reopening In-Person Instruction Framework & Public Health Guidance for K-12 Schools in California, 2020-2021 School Year
How should we notify families of COVID-19 cases in the school or program? (TK-12; Programs for Children/Youth)
The letter templates should be used by schools, childcare programs, and other programs serving children or youth to notify individuals when a COVID-19 case or close contact of a COVID-19 case is identified in a school setting or in a program serving children or youth and to provide instructions for affected individuals. The letter templates address three scenarios: (1) when a student/child or staff member in a cohort has been in close contact with a COVID-19 case, (2) when a student/child or staff member in a cohort tests positive for COVID-19, and (3) when a student/child or staff member tests positive for COVID-19 in a non-cohort setting. A cohort is a stable group of students/children and staff who remain together throughout the school day/length of the program and who do not mix with other groups of students/children and staff.
When can a case or close contact return to school or another program for children/youth? (TK-12; Programs for Children/Youth)
Students and staff are no longer considered contagious if they meet the criteria detailed in the Return to Work and School Letter. The County of Santa Clara discourages schools from requiring a medical note or a negative test to return to work as long as the criteria detailed are met.
NEW - fully vaccinated close contacts may not need to quarantine if they meet certain conditions. Please see question 21 above, and also Quarantine Guidance for Fully Vaccinated People for more information.
In contrast, symptomatic, non-close contacts ARE required to have a negative test or medical note to return 24 hours after resolution of fever and improvement of other symptoms. Individuals who refuse testing and/or evaluation should be treated as a COVID-19 case and can return based on the usual isolation criteria of 10 days after symptom onset and 24 hours after resolution of fever and improvement of other symptoms.
Are schools required to notify all families in the school community if there is a COVID-19 case? (TK-12)
If the COVID-19 case is in a non-cohort setting, schools are required to notify all of the COVID-19 case’s close contacts at the school. If the COVID-19 case is in a cohort setting, schools are required to notify all of the individuals in the COVID-19 case’s cohort. Schools are not required to notify families of students who are not close contacts of a COVID-19 case or in a cohort with a COVID-19 case. However, the County recommends notifications to the broader school community as a best practice, and schools may be required to provide broader notification pursuant to State law.
Are public schools required to comply with the County Health Officer’s May 18 , 2021 Order Establishing Focused Safety Measures to Protect the Community from COVID-19 (“Order”)? (TK-12; Programs for Children/Youth)
Governmental agencies, including local educational agencies, are urged to follow the Order’s requirements that apply to businesses. However, governmental entities and their contractors are not required to follow these requirements to the extent that such requirements would impede or interfere with an essential governmental function, as determined by the governmental entity, unless otherwise specifically directed by the Health Officer.
What guidance applies to schools providing adult education programs? (Adult Education)
Adult education programs are required to follow the May 18, 2021 Order of the Health Officer of the County of Santa Clara Establishing Focused Safety Measures to Protect the Community from COVID-19 , which is available here.
- Are schools allowed to release personally identifiable information, including health information, from students’ education records to the County Public Health Department without parental or student consent? (TK-12)
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records, which generally includes all student information in the possession of schools. In general, school districts and public schools (and other schools receiving federal funds) must obtain consent from a parent or guardian before disclosing personally identifiable information from students’ education records. But exceptions to FERPA’s general consent rule allow schools to share certain records and information without prior consent in certain circumstances. In its guidance regarding FERPA and how school officials can help slow the spread of COVID-19, the U.S. Department of Education confirms that schools can share information without prior consent when, in connection with an emergency such as the current COVID-19 pandemic, sharing information with public health officials is necessary to protect the health or safety of students or other individuals. In order to prevent and control the spread of disease through case investigation and contact tracing, this may include information such as whether a student has tested positive for COVID-19, their household contacts, and their parents’ or guardians’ contact information.
Archives and Past Guidance
- Letter from Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody and Superintendent Dr. Mary Ann Dewan on childhood vaccinations and wellness care for the upcoming school year – July 23, 2020. PDF: | English | Chinese | Spanish | Vietnamese | Tagalog |
- Science Behind the K-12 School Guidance – July 17, 2020 (PDF) - The Santa Clara County Public Health Department hosted a webinar to discuss the science behind the K-12 school guidance, released on June 30, 2020. The webinar was intended to provide an overview highlighting current scientific data behind the recent public health recommendations. This overview is not comprehensive but highlights themes and key articles and reports relevant to school settings. Our understanding of COVID-19 is rapidly evolving. Santa Clara County Public Health Department will continue to monitor emerging research and provide updated information and recommendations.
- Which school districts have received approval for their waiver applications to re-open elementary schools for in-person instruction?
- A Parent's Guide to Reopening of Santa Clara County K-12 Schools - September 21, 2020 PDF: | English | Chinese | Spanish | Vietnamese | Tagalog |
- List of Elementary School Waiver Applications
- Statement of the County of Santa Clara Regarding the Governor’s Announcement – July 17, 2020
- Guidance for Graduation/Recognition of Graduates – June 5, 2020
- Guidance for Child Care and Preschool Settings– February 13, 2020
- Guidance for Schools and Students Update – February 10, 2020 - | Chinese | Spanish | Vietnamese |
- Letter to Colleges & Universities on Novel Coronavirus Update – February 5, 2020
- Letter to Colleges & Universities on Novel Coronavirus – February 3, 2020
- Recorded livestream of County Public Health Department and Office of Education leaders sharing School Settings guidance with news media - June 30, 2020
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