Bay Area health officers reaffirm support for in-person school

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Bay Area health officers announced Thursday their continued support for in-person learning at schools that employ safety protocols, despite the summer surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations due to the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant.

In a joint statement today, health officers for the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Benito, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma, and the City of Berkeley said they expect cases to appear at schools when COVID rates are high. But the data, according to health officers, show that safety protocols are effective at stopping the spread of the virus in school settings. Those protocols include indoor masking, vaccinations for eligible people, testing, good hand hygiene, staying home when sick and proper ventilation, they said.

The health officers added that while children can get COVID-19, “severe disease among kids is uncommon and deaths are exceedingly rare.”

“In Contra Costa County, we are seeing COVID-19 cases among children but at rates generally lower than among adults and lower than last winter’s surge,” officials said.

The lack of in-person learning during the pandemic has disrupted education and weakened social supports and harmed student mental health, the health officials said, reaffirming their joint statement in June supporting in-person learning.

“The risks and benefits of returning to in-person learning are clearer now than any other time during this pandemic – we must all continue to do everything possible to keep kids safely attending their schools,” they said.