This year's back-to-school throughout the county resembles a more normal year, with full-time, in-person instruction and full class sizes.
“With the elimination of social distancing, we no longer have to have smaller classes,” said Sonoma County superintendent Steve Herrington. “So we can have full class sizes as well, as long as we follow the universal masking requirement.”
Herrington said all students, teachers and staff will continue to wear masks indoors to mitigate transmission. And that policies will shift with changes in the virus and state guidance. But as of now, social distance will not be enforced in classrooms and the days of distance and hybrid learning are also over. Parents who would like to keep their child at home can opt for independent study, if the school or a nearby district offers it.
In a Tuesday afternoon county briefing, vaccine officer Urmila Shende said although children can get the highly transmissible delta variant, the response is different than in adults.
“In general children with COVID, they do fine,” Shende said. “We are seeing a little more fever in cases that have the delta variants, but for the most part they do quite well. At this point in Sonoma County, we haven't had any children who have had severe complications from COVID.”
Shende said in addition to masks, high vaccination rates in the household is key.
“Children, for the most part, do not contract the infection at school, they contract it at home and from large and small gatherings,” Shende said. “So the more protective bubble we can create around that child, the less chance that that child is going to become ill.”
There is currently no vaccine mandate for school staff across the county and the office of education estimates that 85 percent of staff are fully vaccinated ahead of the school year.