July 23, 2021
Dear Porterville Unified Students, Families and Staff,
We are very excited to welcome the new school year and the full opening of our schools for learning. It has been a busy couple of months with the delivery of our largest summer learning program ever and continued preparations to bring all students back to every campus, every day, learning in every subject and in every classroom. While we are excited to reopen PUSD schools for full-time, in-person learning, the safety of our students and staff remains our highest priority, and we want to share the latest health and safety guidance that applies to all school settings for 2021-2022.
As you may have seen in the news, last week the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued updated guidance related to school settings, with the largest emphasis being on the continued requirement of masking. The update applies to all TK-12 schools for the 2021-2022 school year, which for Porterville Unified students, begins on August 12th.
Below is a brief summary of the health and safety practices that will apply for the start of the new school year: Public Health Guidance for K-12 Schools in California, 2021-22 School Year
Masking Guidance Update
All PUSD students are required to wear masks indoors, with exemptions per CDPH face mask guidance. All adults in TK-12 settings are required to wear masks when sharing indoor spaces with students. According to the new CDPH guidelines, masks are optional outdoors for all TK-12 settings. CDPH has not yet issued updated guidance for athletics and other activities such as band and choir – we will communicate the protocols associated with these activities as soon as we receive the information.
Staff mask requirements when students are not present are governed by the Cal/OSHA standards available at the following link: CAL/OSHA Face Covering Guidance
Previous masking exemptions per CDPH face mask guidance will still be honored.
Schools will provide masks if students need them, and school staff will continue to follow existing protocols to address behavior issues related to mask wearing.
Per the CDPH mask guidance, students who do not qualify for a face covering exemption, or who are not willing to wear a face covering, may be served through the PUSD’s Independent Study Program.
Porterville Unified will offer independent study for the 2021-22 school year for any students who are unable to return to in-person learning.
- School staff will refer interested parents/guardians to Instructional Services for an intake meeting.
- Students with special needs will need to have their IEPs modified to address the request for independent study and adjust services.
- Students enrolled in independent study for the 2021-22 school year will have rights to return to their home school when they return to in-person learning.
If you have questions about independent study for the 2021-22 school year, please contact PUSD via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (559) 560-5777. To indicate your preference to enroll your students in the program, please complete the following form: PUSD Independent Study Interest Form
Please note that a student that chooses independent study may have reduced options available when it comes to participating in various programs such as Pathways or activities such as band or athletics.
Physical Distancing Update
According to the new CDPH guidelines, in-person instruction can occur safely without minimum physical distancing requirements when other mitigation strategies such as masking are implemented. As a reminder, PUSD has added HEPA air purifiers to all classrooms to continually monitor and intelligently filter the air.
Physical distance will be maximized as much as possible through the use of additional spaces outside of the cafeteria for mealtime seating. Meals will be eaten outdoors to the greatest extent practical.
School Visitors and Volunteers
While access to school offices is permitted, to ensure the highest level of safety, visitors’ and volunteers’ access to school grounds will be limited and individuals will not be allowed in classrooms unless deemed essential for educational purposes. In those cases all safety protocols will be adhered to.
BinaxNow COVID-19 rapid antigen testing will be available on-site at PUSD schools for symptomatic students. COVID-19 rapid testing will help with rapid contact tracing and prevent possible spread at schools.
Parents/guardians must provide written consent for their student(s) to be tested. The form only needs to be completed once, but parents/guardians will be notified prior to each test administered. Consent forms will be posted on the district’s website and/or distributed via ParentSquare. Consent forms will also be available to complete at school sites.
Additionally, as recommended by CDPH as an additional safety layer to maximize student access to full in-person learning, PUSD will be conducting routine screening testing at elementary sites and for groups of students participating in extracurricular activities such as athletics with the same parent/guardian written consent required.
Quarantine Recommendations for Unvaccinated Students
When both parties were wearing a mask in the indoor classroom setting, unvaccinated students who are close contacts (more than 15 minutes over a 24-hour period within 0-6 feet indoors) may undergo a modified 10-day quarantine as follows. They may continue to attend school for in-person instruction if they:
- Are asymptomatic;
- Continue to appropriately mask, as required;
- Undergo at least twice weekly testing during the 10-day quarantine; and
- Continue to quarantine for all extracurricular activities at school, including sports, and activities within the community setting.
Click here for more information on quarantine guidelines.
What if my child is showing symptoms?
Students with symptoms of COVID-19 infection should not return for in-person instruction until they have met CDPH criteria to return to school for those with symptoms:
- At least 24 hours have passed since resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications; and
- Other symptoms have improved; and
- They have a negative test for COVID-19, OR a healthcare provider has provided documentation that the symptoms are typical of their underlying chronic condition (e.g., allergies or asthma) OR a healthcare provider has confirmed an alternative named diagnosis (e.g., Streptococcal pharyngitis, Coxsackie virus), OR at least 10 days have passed since symptom onset.
Community COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics - Where can we go to get vaccinated?
COVID-19 vaccination is strongly recommended for all eligible people in California, including teachers, staff, students and adults sharing homes with members of our TK-12 communities.
- International Agri-Center in Tulare - Vaccination appointments are NOW available at this site. Anyone age 12 and older can get vaccinated and walk-ups are welcome! Visit MyTurn for more COVID-19 vaccine appointments.
- Porterville Veterans Memorial Building located at 1900 W. Olive Ave. in Porterville – Those interested in scheduling an appointment to get their COVID vaccine at this location can register for an appointment on the statewide COVID Vaccination platform, MyTurn at: https://myturn.ca.gov/. Those without internet access can call 1-888-422-4255 to make an appointment.
- Visit the Tulare County COVID-19 Vaccine Website for a list of other local sources from which to receive a vaccination such as pharmacies and healthcare providers.
We will have an updated guidebook with additional information around reopening available soon and continue to keep you updated as new guidance becomes available. Thank you for your continued support and patience as we work together to safely welcome our students and staff back to the new school year.