CDPH provides details on TK-6 waivers
August 10, 2020
The California Department of Public Health released new guidance Aug. 3 to provide additional clarity on the waiver allowing elementary schools to reopen in counties on the state’s monitoring list. Information on the waiver process can be found at
. The announcement expands upon a narrow exemption detailed in last month’s school reopening framework, which required any LEA or school site to remain closed to in-person instruction if it is located within a local health jurisdiction that has been on the state’s county monitoring list within the prior 14 days. CDPH now advises local health officers to grant or deny elementary school waiver requests using the following factors:
  • The waiver is for grades TK-6, even if a school serves additional grades.
  • Reopening plans must be published on the LEA’s website and must address items described in CDPH’s Industry Guidance for Schools.
  • Applicants must show evidence of consultation with labor, parent, and community organizations, meaning school-based non-profit organizations and local organizations that support student enrichment, recreation, after-school programs, health services, early childhood services or provide family support.
  • Districts should consolidate their application for multiple elementary schools.
  • Independent, private, faith-based, and charter schools must submit an application and plan for each school.
  • Local health officers are directed to consider specific factors in addition to the application, including whether in-person instruction can be provided in small, stable cohorts, and the availability of testing resources. 
  • Local health officers must consult with CDPH prior to making a determination and may conditionally approve an application with limitations.
  • Applications should be submitted to the local health officer at least 14 days prior to the desired reopening date.
CDPH strongly recommends that schools within jurisdictions with 14-day case rates more than two times the threshold to be on the County Monitoring List (>200 cases/100,000 population) should not be considered for a waiver to re-open in-person instruction. A forthcoming guidance will further detail the conditions for providing in-person instruction to smaller, targeted sets of TK-12 students, such as students with an individualized education program, according to CDPH’s FAQ.  The rationale behind the TK-6 waiver is that COVID-related risks in schools serving elementary-age students are believed to be lower than and different from the risks to staff and to students in schools serving older students, according to CDPH.  The state also justified the new waiver by citing the public health risks of not providing in-person instruction, including the social-emotional wellbeing of young children, undetected child abuse and inequities in learning loss.
Elementary schools may seek exemption to hold in-person learning
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