CUSD schools remain open under new state orders

By Elysse James

Because the District opened schools for in-person learning in September, schools in Capistrano Unified are able to remain open for in-person and online instruction under the newest orders by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Though regional stay-at-home orders may soon be enacted in Orange County, there are no changes for schools that are currently open for in-person instruction, according to Dr. Clayton Chau, Orange County Health Care Agency Director and acting County Health Officer.

“Please know that the Capistrano Unified School District cares about the safety of its students, families, teachers and staff and we will continue to follow all California Department of Public Health guidelines to safely operate our schools,” Supt. Kirsten Vital wrote in a message to families.

The new, more restrictive orders will go into effect in areas with a low availability of beds in local intensive care units and is a response to the surge in COVID-19 related hospitalizations.

Capistrano Unified continues to follow on-campus safety measures including wearing masks, frequent hand-washing, taking temperatures, maintaining cohorts, sanitizing spaces, safe distancing, and asking students and staff to stay home if they feel sick.

Due to successfully following safety measures and guidelines, schools have not been the source of the recent surge in the coronavirus, according to California Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Mark Ghaly.

All 27 school districts in Orange County have maintained a low percentage of positive cases, according to the Orange County Department of Education. The Orange County Register on Nov. 25 published an article that stated, “Since the start of the pandemic, many students attend classes via distance learning, but 390 cases appears well shy of 1% of the county’s student enrollment figures from last year.” That includes both K-12 and colleges.

CUSD is the largest school district in Orange County and the eighth-largest public school district in California. The district, which serves 47,000 students, is one of only a few in Orange County offering full-time elementary school.

Cases in CUSD have been low, and in an effort to maintain transparency and safety, the district recently created an online Positive COVID-19 Case Dashboard that lists the numbers of staff and students at each school that have tested positive for the virus, along with the in-person enrollment for each CUSD campus.

The district also allows families to seamlessly change to an all-online option at any time. Families can choose online-only, hybrid, or full-time on-campus education for their students.

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