Graphic Illustration by Jason Shan
After more than a year of virtual learning, FUHSD has returned to in-person learning for the 2021-22 school year. Due to COVID-19, the district has established safety policies to prioritize student and staff health based on Santa Clara County’s (SCC) guidelines, which are developed from guidelines provided by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). The enforcement of mask-wearing, social distancing, ventilation, increased hygiene methods and other related precautions are among Lynbrook’s top priorities.
Aligned with CDPH’s guidance for the 2021-22 school year, SCC encourages students and staff to receive vaccinations, refrain from travel and continue frequent testing for COVID-19. Masks or alternative face coverings are required in indoor and outdoor spaces, except when eating or drinking.
If any student or staff member displays symptoms of COVID-19, SCC advises them to stay home, get tested and not return to school until they receive their test result. If these symptoms arise during school hours, the symptomatic individuals will be directed to isolation rooms and be monitored by a Designated Trained Personnel. Protective equipment such as surgical masks, face shields, hand sanitizer and disinfectants are also available to all students and staff.
The CDPH also mandates that schools implement proper cleaning and ventilation of indoor facilities. Lynbrook has installed high-quality ventilation systems that will be changed every three months as suggested by the CDPH. Additionally, the CDPH suggests that schools leave doors and windows open at all times and recommends portable fans to further increase ventilation.
SCC mentions in their guidelines that vaccines are the greatest assets in the fight against COVID-19. According to a poll of Lynbrook High School students and staff conducted by the Epic at the end of May 2021, 50% of respondents were fully vaccinated, 24% partially vaccinated and only 26% unvaccinated. Additionally, 85% percent of the FUHSD staff have been vaccinated as of the start of the school year.
Although more than 80% of SCC residents eligible for the vaccine have received at least one dose, SCC continues to take additional precautions such as requiring masks indoors and outdoors due to factors that make a full return to normal unsafe, such as the remaining unvaccinated population.
“We can’t require vaccines,” FUHSD Superintendent Polly Bove said. “The group that requires vaccines is the legislature of California, and they can’t require those vaccines until there’s Food and Drug Administration approval (FDA).”
The FDA has approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine since Bove’s announcement, raising questions over whether the district will implement vaccine mandates going forward.
School safety procedures have become even more crucial with the introduction of the COVID-19 delta variant, which is far more contagious than the original strain. The variant makes up a majority of current U.S. cases and can potentially be carried and spread by vaccinated people.
Lynbrook continues to work closely with SCC to monitor the situation. There are still many uncertainties about the delta variant as well as the extent to which safety policies will be followed by students and staff, making it difficult to gauge the probability of schools closing down once again.
A complete overview of Lynbrook’s new policies can be found here.