With Orange County moving back to the purple tier, how does that affect Capo Unified?

Due to rising COVID-related case numbers, Orange County fell back into the more restrictive purple tier of California’s color-coded system that tracks how widespread the virus is spreading. The purple tier is the most restrictive in the state, forcing many businesses and other entities to close in an attempt to curtail the spread. 

Orange County had moved into the less-restrictive red tier on Sept. 8, which allowed the Capistrano Unified School District to open its campuses and resume in-person learning for students.

But with Orange County moving back to a purple tier, what does that mean for Capo Unified? K-12 schools that have fully reopened prior to today for in-person instruction are not required to close. CUSD is fully reopened and our plan includes options to attend in-person school or remain at home 100%. Families can switch to 100% online at any time by contacting their school site.

Why is Orange County moving to the purple tier?

According to the state’s rules and its Blueprint for a Safer Economy, if a county’s numbers fall within the range of a more restrictive tier for two consecutive weeks, the county automatically moves to that tier. The OC Health Care Agency has been looking at Orange County’s rising numbers and had warned that the county could be moving into that tier. That finally happened and the state moved Orange County, along with several other counties in the state, back to the purple tier.

Do Capo schools have to close?

The short answer is no. State guidelines say that if a county falls back into the purple tier from a less restrictive tier, schools that have already resumed in-person instruction can stay open but must increase testing and precautions.

So when would a school close?

According to the district’s Reopening Plan, an individual school closure would be based on the number of cases, the percentage of the teacher/student/staff that are positive for COVID-19, and following consultation with local health officials. Individual school closure may be appropriate when there are multiple cases in multiple cohorts at a school or when at least 5 percent of the total number of teacher/student/staff cases are within a 14-day period, depending on the size and physical layout of the school. Local health officials may also determine school closure is warranted for other reasons, including results from public health investigation or other local epidemiological data.

If schools do close, when could they reopen again?

Schools can usually reopen within 14 days after campuses have been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, public health contact tracing is completed and the OC Health Agency has given its approval.

Of course, all of this is subject to change based on any further decisions made at the state or county level.

The good news is that the Capistrano Unified School District has been rigorously planning and anticipating all situations related to COVID-19 and have spared no expense in implementing safeguards, disinfecting protocols and distancing measures on campus to help combat any outbreaks.

As part of its Reopening Plan, the district offers parents a page on its website with detailed instructions, programs and resources to answer any questions regarding how schools are tackling teaching and learning during the pandemic.

Furthermore, in an effort to be transparent, Capo Unified unveiled an online Positive COVID-19 Case Dashboard that lists the number of staff and students by school who have tested positive for the virus, along with the in-person enrollment for each campus.

No matter what tier the county is in, the Capistrano Unified School District cares about the safety of its students, families, teachers and staff. The district encourages everyone to continue wearing a mask, avoiding large gatherings, washing hands often and maintaining social distancing.

If you have further questions, call your individual school or access the Reopening Schools website.

To view the district’s online dashboard listing positive COVID-19 cases by campus, click here.

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