Clarification allows up to 50 spectators at indoor school events
As COVID-19 cases begin to fall and hospitalizations stabilize, Sonoma County’s health officer, Dr. Sundari Mase, on Thursday clarified a county health order capping attendance at indoor events, including school sporting events and artistic performances, to 50 people.
Beginning Thursday, January 27, such events can have up to 50 spectators. Masking requirements, including that spectators, staff, media and participants who are not actively exerting themselves or using their mouth to play an instrument, must remain in effect. Social distancing of six feet between cohorts from the same household is recommended.
Dr. Mase’s clarification of the health order follows regular consultation with the Sonoma County Office of Education and school district leaders, as well as performing arts venues and other members of the business community. In her discussions with school leaders, Dr. Mase has repeatedly acknowledged the current health order’s impacts on students and their families and expressed appreciation for their efforts to keep our school communities safe.
“Throughout the surge in COVID-19 cases following the holidays, my office and other educational leaders have been in communication with Dr. Mase and other county health officials to receive updates on case and hospitalization rates and the effectiveness of our mitigation strategies,” said Dr. Steven Herrington, Sonoma County’s superintendent of schools. “Throughout all of January, our focus has been on preserving in-person learning and regular school activities, and limiting the surge’s impacts on our hospitals and the broader community."
“We know the past few weeks have been challenging for athletes, performers and their families, particularly for our high school seniors, and are hopeful this clarification allows more families to get out and support their students safely, following protective measures that have been shown to be effective in limiting the spread of COVID-19, such as masking and social distancing.”
Please remember that any student participant who has been released from isolation or quarantine must remain masked after release, for a total of 10 days after the onset of symptoms or the date of a positive test, if no symptoms are present. This masking requirement includes participation in athletic events and performances. If such students cannot participate while wearing masks, they should refrain from participating.
In clarifying the health order, Dr. Mase said the Jan. 10 health order and other proactive measures to limit the spread of the omicron variant appear to have helped bring case rates down from a high of nearly 250 new cases per day per 100,000 residents to about 199 cases per day. She expressed optimism that with continued vigilance, case rates and hospitalizations will continue to decline.
The health order limiting indoor and outdoor gatherings is set to expire at 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 10 unless revised or extended.
In the same webinar where she clarified her guidance on indoor and outdoor events, Dr. Mase indicated the health order setting a deadline for school workers and volunteers to receive a COVID-19 booster shot by Feb. 1 or provide two negative tests weekly is being amended due to a communitywide lack of testing resources. The requirement that school workers and volunteers be boosted by Feb. 1 remains in effect, as does a requirement that anyone who has not received a booster shot wear a surgical grade mask or respirator in school settings. But employees or volunteers who do not have access to testing will not need to submit to twice-weekly tests until March 1.
School employees or volunteers seeking to obtain a booster shot ahead of Feb. 1 should consider taking advantage of this weekend’s large vaccination event at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds. The event is open to all ages 5 and up and runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Garrett Building at 1350 Bennett Valley Road. No appointments are needed and first, second and booster doses are available. School families should visit scoe.org/vaccines for a list of upcoming vaccine clinics at school sites.