Silicon Valley Educators Quarantine After In-Person Meeting About Schools Reopening

Silicon Valley Educators Quarantine After In-Person Meeting About Schools Reopening
File photo of a worker cleaning a room at Regional Medical Centre on May 21, 2020 in San Jose, California. (Photo: Justin Sullivan, Getty Images)

At least 40 school administrators in Santa Clara County, California — the heart of Silicon Valley — have been forced to self-quarantine following an in-person meeting last month attended by someone who later tested positive for covid-19. Ironically, the subject of the meeting was how to safely reopen K-12 schools in the region on August 17, according to a new report from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Health officials in Santa Clara County, which has 45 different school districts, hosted 45 school principals for a meeting on June 19, which would appear to be in direct violation of California’s order that no more than ten people congregate in an indoor space. But that’s not what top education officials in the region said at the time.

“Of course those meetings are being conducted under the strict guidelines provided to us by the Santa Clara County Public Health Department,” Superintendent Stella Kemp reportedly told educators in an email last week, according to the Chronicle.

The person who later tested positive was “pre-symptomatic” meaning that they did not yet have symptoms of coronavirus when they potentially exposed others to the disease. People are able to spread the coronavirus before they have symptoms and sometimes without ever developing symptoms, which is just one of the reasons this pandemic has been difficult to contain. Everyone who was present at the June 19 meeting has been tested for covid-19 and no one has yet tested positive, according to the Chronicle.

Santa Clara County school officials released a 22-page report on Tuesday detailing how elementary, middle, and high schools can safely reopen in August. The next draft plan to reopen schools won’t be announced until July 7, when public feedback will be open, and the final plan, including the decision on whether to provide in-class education, won’t be made until July 20.

Santa Clara County has identified at least 4,572 coronavirus cases and 158 deaths since the pandemic began, according to the county’s online tracker. The county reported 210 new cases on Wednesday and two new deaths. California more broadly identified 5,898 new cases yesterday alone, and 110 new deaths, one of the worst days for the state since the pandemic began.

California Governor Gavin Newsom issued a new order on Wednesday for 19 different counties, including Santa Clara, reversing many of the reopenings of restaurants, bars, and movie theatres that had started to occur in the state.

“The spread of this virus continues at a rate that is particularly concerning,” Newsom said at a press briefing yesterday that was livestreamed on YouTube. “Disabuse yourself that somehow people are no longer dying.”