Excuse Absences or Close Schools-Santa Clara County: EPICENTER
This petition made change with 15,878 supporters!
Mar 13, 2020 —
Thank you to everyone who signed this petition.
Thank you to all government officials and otherwise who helped make this difficult decision.
Should Santa Clara county parents have the option of keeping their child home without a doctor’s note and not be penalized as per the attendance policy requirements during the course of this ongoing outbreak?
We need to act fast to reduce transmission and interrupt the cycles of exposure.
This is not the time to stress or fear getting disenrolled from school due to attendance issues. Countries and cities are closing borders, companies are giving options to work from home. Schools need to give similar options as well, especially here in Santa Clara County. Sign and share if you agree.
- Such measures have been taken before- see link 29 below for a review and report created for CDC by The Center for Law & the Public’s Health at Georgetown & Johns Hopkins Universities.
LINK 29: Check 'Executive Summary' on page 4 of the report on the link.
A portion of the above report has been attached below.
As per Prof. James G Hodge, et al "Executive Summary: Schools play a critical role in protecting the health of their students, staff, and the community from highly contagious, infectious diseases such as seasonal or pandemic influenza. Modeling and analyses conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and others suggest that community-wide school closures may mitigate the incidence of pandemic influenza, thereby reducing its impact on individuals, groups, healthcare providers, public health systems, and the economy. The public health premise, consistent with social distancing theories, is that timely closing of schools may limit the spread of influenza (or other communicable conditions). The efficacy of social distancing measures to reducing the morbidity and mortality of pandemic influenza has been shown historically."
- How does the virus spread?
- Are children at risk of getting sick with the coronavirus?
- Are children transmitters of the virus?
- Is there any research on the legal and logistical issues related with school closures in response to a pandemic or other emergencies with prior case examples? Yes, see link  below.
- How are companies, schools and organizations reacting to COVID-19? If so many big companies are closing, why not the schools?
- What are the CDC guidelines for schools during this emergency?
- What are the guidelines from the California Department of Education regarding school closures?
- How are school and university attendance requirements being impacted?
- Is it easy to get tested for coronavirus? Are there enough kits to test the growing number of cases?
World Health Organization chief Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said last week, “This is not a drill” [16, 17] and governments "should be preparing for sustained community transmission” [16, 17]. PBS reports “a school district north of Seattle with 22,000 students announced it will close for up to two weeks because of coronavirus concerns” .
1. How does the virus spread?
As per CDC  the virus is spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”). As per WHO, the disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which the person coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets .
*What this means is that the virus spreads easily and quickly.
2. Are children at risk of getting sick with the coronavirus? 3. Are children transmitters of the virus?
As per a research team team led by scientists from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Shenzhen Center for Disease Control and Prevention , children do not seem to get sick by the virus at the same rate or intensity as adults do. However, the new research shows that children do, in fact, catch the coronavirus at about the same rate as adults . Whether children are transmitters of the disease even if they are asymptomatic or mildly sick with COVID-19 is still being researched.
Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota said, "If children are carrying the infection but not showing symptoms, they could be an invisible reservoir for community spread".
*What this means is that though most children’s cases may not be severe, asymptomatic or otherwise -children may be transmitters of the disease.
4. Is there any research on the legal and logistical issues related with school closures in response to a pandemic or other emergencies with prior case examples? 
Yes, there is a a research paper co-authored by James G. Hodge Jr., a professor of public health law and ethics at Arizona State University for the CDC. You can check the research paper via the link below .
5. How are companies, schools and organizations reacting to COVID-19? If so many big companies are closing, why not the schools?
PBS reports that “a school district north of Seattle with 22,000 students announced it will close for up to two weeks because of coronavirus concerns” . Northshore school district in Washington is moving all learning from classroom to Cloud and closing all campuses for 2 weeks. Superintendent Michelle Reid said, “All schools sites in the Northshore School District will be closed beginning Thursday, March 5 for up to 14 days while we continue to monitor the situation and health department recommendations. Today and tomorrow we will communicate plans to transition instruction from classroom to cloud (online learning) beginning Monday, March 9. This decision was made thoughtfully and with the support of a variety of district and community leaders” (read the rest of her letter via link .
As per SF Chronicle, Elk Grove District in Sacramento county is closing all schools till March 13th, pending further review on March 12 . A number of schools have closed due to coronavirus concerns in the Bay Area as per NBC Bay Area. See a list at https://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/oakland-school-closes-over-potential-coronavirus-exposure/2248347/
Stanford University is moving classes online for the final two weeks of winter quarter in response to a positive case of coronavirus .An increasing number of Bay Area companies are giving the option to employees to work from home. Some companies are requiring employees to work remotely. Google, Apple, Microsoft, Salesforce, Lyft and LinkedIn are some of the companies asking employees to work from home. Companies like Cisco have given employees the option of working from home.
*What this means is that further company and school closures seem highly likely because the outbreak is spreading rapidly.
6. What are CDC guidelines for schools during this emergency?
CDC has published an interim set of guidelines to help school districts and administrators to plan, prepare and respond to coronavirus before, after and during this emergency . One of the guidelines is to encourage sick students and staff to stay at home. Another is to use flexibility in regards to attendance . Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are urging education officials to plan for extended closures due to the rapidly increasing rate of coronavirus outbreaks .
CDC also says, “Community-level nonpharmaceutical intervention might include school dismissals and social distancing in other settings (e.g., postponement or cancellation of mass gatherings and telework and remote-meeting options in workplaces). These measures can be disruptive and might have societal and economic impact on individual persons and communities. However, studies have shown that early layered implementation of these interventions can reduce the community spread and impact of infectious pathogens such as pandemic influenza, even when specific pharmaceutical treatments and vaccines are not available. These measures might be critical to avert widespread COVID-19 transmission in U.S. communities.” .
*What this means is that CDC is stressing on early layered implementation of interventions to control the spread of this disease.
7. What are the guidelines from the California Department of Education regarding school closures?
A letter by Tony Thurmond, State Superintendent of Public Instruction to County and District Superintendents, Charter School Administrators, and Principals says, “deciding to close a school is a local decision, and one that CDE would not provide the directive on, especially if it is a public health concern. In the case of COVID-19, the decision to close a school would either come from the school and/or district, or ideally from their local county public health officials.” .
*What this means is that in most cases the school district is the organization that will decide whether a closure is warranted or not.
8. How are school and university attendance requirements being impacted?
Coronavirus has created an unprecedented situation eliciting reactions from schools, universities, companies and countries around the world in an effort to contain the rapid spread of this virus. Several universities and schools in Washington are experiencing closures (check  for detailed list). The Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction is also considering “including extending the school year to June 19 if necessary” . As per Berkeley News, UC Berkeley is asking instructors to consider suspending any attendance requirements until further notice . As per Tampa Bay Times, Pinellas county in Florida is set to cut attendance policy regarding exam waivers, citing coronavirus .
*What this means is that unprecedented times call for unprecedented actions and policies need to be revisited for optimal virus containment efforts.
9. Is it easy to get tested for coronavirus? Are there enough kits to test the growing number of cases?
No and Not yet.
[A report is yet to be confirmed about 1 million test kits being sent to state public health laboratories all over the US.]
As per Kaiser Health News , there are problems with US testing protocols. The woman in Solano county is an example where the doctors suspected coronavirus and requested testing which was not approved due to the federal government’s narrow testing protocols. Finally, the CDC requested testing and it came back positive. San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times and other news outlets/resources report a shortage of number of testing kits.
*What this means is that there are cases that are going undetected  and that coronavirus outbreaks will continue to spread.
Number of cases in the US, California and Santa Clara county: Rapidly Changing Situation
Since Thursday May 5th, the number of US cases have jumped from 227 to over 500 as per CNN . As per CDPH [California Department of Public Health], there are 88 positive cases in California as of March 7th . At least 32 of those 88 cases are in Santa Clara County.
*What this means is that the outbreak is growing at an unprecedented rate across California, especially in Santa Clara and Solano counties  and we need to act fast.
Considering the above, should Santa Clara county parents have the option of keeping their child home without a doctor’s note and not be penalized as per the attendance policy requirements during the course of this ongoing outbreak?
If you believe the answer is yes, please sign this petition to help Santa Clara county parents have the option to keep their children at home and not have to supply a doctor’s note.
1. Verify your resources. There is a lot of information out there and it is difficult to sort it all out.
2. Practice preventative measures .
3. Stay calm and be informed.
4. There are all sorts of social taboos associated with asking simple questions and expressing concern. Support and educate each other. It is absolutely understandable to be concerned about this situation as it is rapidly changing and is unprecedented.
Let us work together [albeit remotely] and help implement ‘preventative’, ‘layered’  and effective measures in a timely manner[16,17].
Thank you for reading and considering signing this petition.
Track the spread of the virus, check Reuters link:
- https://www.cnn.com/asia/live-news/coronavirus-outbreak-03-07-20-intl-hnk/h_e6f0581d306d28e6648716b391ced46b 
- https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/07/health/coronavirus-outbreaks-saturday/index.html 
- https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/Immunization/ncov2019.aspx 
- https://www.sccgov.org/sites/phd/DiseaseInformation/novel-coronavirus/Pages/known-cases-of-coronavirus.aspx 
- https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html 
- https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses 
- https://khn.org/news/new-california-coronavirus-case-reveals-problems-with-testing-protocols/ 
- https://www.livescience.com/can-kids-get-coronavirus.html 
- https://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/coronavirus/stanford-university-cancels-on-campus-classes-as-faculty-member-tests-positive-for-coronavirus/2249652/ 
- https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/coronavirus-Bay-Area-companies-work-from-home-news-15111144.php#photo-19034347 
- https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/guidance-for-schools.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fspecific-groups%2Fguidance-for-schools.html 
- https://www.kqed.org/news/11805531/some-bay-area-schools-close-in-preparation-for-coronavirus 
- https://www.cde.ca.gov/nr/el/le/yr20ltr0305.asp 
- https://www.who.int/ihr/procedures/pheic/en/ 
- https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6908e1.htm 
- https://www.globalhealthnow.org/2020-03/not-drill 
- https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/06/asia/coronavirus-covid-19-update-who-intl-hnk/index.html 
- https://mynorthwest.com/1751658/friday-coronavirus-school-closures-puget-sound-region/ 
- https://www.k12.wa.us/about-ospi/press-releases/novel-coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-resources 
- https://www.tampabay.com/news/gradebook/2020/03/05/pinellas-schools-cut-attendance-policy-citing-coronavirus/ 
- https://news.berkeley.edu/2020/03/04/an-update-on-how-uc-berkeley-instructors-are-preparing-for-coronavirus/ 
- https://www.pbs.org/newshour/health/watch-this-is-not-a-drill-who-chief-warns-of-covid-19 
- https://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/coronavirus/list-of-coronavirus-cases-in-the-bay-area/2248581/ 
- https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Coronavirus-live-updates-Six-dead-in-Washington-15100710.php 
- https://www.nsd.org/blog/~board/superintendent-blog/post/letter-to-families-all-schools-closed-march-5 
- https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/index.html 
- https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-usa-education/do-we-really-want-to-close-schools-u-s-authorities-resist-coronavirus-closures-idUSKBN20T1DQ 
- https://graphics.reuters.com/CHINA-HEALTH-MAP/0100B59S39E/index.html 
- https://www.pps.net/cms/lib8/OR01913224/Centricity/Domain/70/pandemic/schoolclosures.pdf .
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