Community Letter: The Road Ahead for Sonoma County Schools
March 15, 2021
To the School Community of Sonoma County:
A year ago, Sonoma County schools closed their doors to in-person learning as concerns about a novel Coronavirus spread across the country. While there are still many unknowns, we know that we were doing our best to help “flatten the curve.” At the time, we thought campuses might be closed for a few weeks. Little did we know that it was only the beginning of a long and difficult year for our community, that included not only a once in a lifetime pandemic but also multiple wildfires and mass evacuations.
A year later, as a new spring arrives, it feels like we are finally seeing signs of hope. Sonoma County has at last emerged from the state’s most restrictive “purple tier,” where we had been stubbornly stuck since the beginning of the school year. We estimate that well over half the TK-12 teaching workforce in Sonoma County has been offered a vaccine, and the rest should have an opportunity to be vaccinated within the next few weeks.
Some elementary schools have begun welcoming children back to campus. We have heard from the teachers and administrators there what a joy it is to hear the sounds of children on the school playground again. Most elementary schools have set dates for a phased reopening by late March or early April, with middle and high schools shortly behind them. Most elementary schools have had their COVID-19 Safety Plans approved by the county health department, ensuring a return to campus where student and staff safety is the highest priority.
I want to acknowledge school staff, students and their families, and community members for their incredible hard work and perseverance during these most difficult times. If the current progress continues, our county could move into the even less restrictive orange tier within a month or so. This would make it easier for schools to return to full, rather than hybrid, instruction.
Getting there requires all of us working hard and not losing sight of our goal: to continue making progress in our fight against COVID-19 so that we can continue reopening our schools and economy.
We need to stay vigilant and wear masks in public, even when vaccinated. Families must do their part to ensure their children are healthy each morning before sending them to school. We should still avoid large indoor gatherings and follow all the county’s social distancing guidelines.
If we keep our focus, schools can continue to reopen and our community can move ahead into happier times.
Steven D. Herrington, Ph.D.
Sonoma County Superintendent of Schools