IUSD is truly grateful for all of our students, families and staff, who have been steadfast partners and demonstrated character, resiliency and adaptability, as we continue to navigate these unchartered waters together. We understand and greatly appreciate the many different perspectives and concerns of our families and staff, which is why IUSD has provided a variety of academic models to meet these diverse needs. Below is data and information from experts about why schools remain open and the nationwide push to open all schools and to keep them open.
- Since the onset of COVID-19, IUSD has been guided by national, state and county guidelines for schools, established by infectious disease experts and agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the California Department of Public Health and the Orange County Health Care Agency.
- To date, these agencies continue to affirm that schools are effectively combating COVID-19 due to stringent mitigation strategies and have made recommendations for schools to reopen.
Experts Want Schools to Reopen and Remain Open
- Dr. Mark Ghaly, Secretary of California’s Health and Human Service Agency said, “We have not seen a connection between increased transmission and school reopening or in-person learning. We’re looking at the information to see if there is a connection and so far we have not found one.”
- In keeping with Dr. Ghaly’s statements and a growing body of evidence that schools are preventing and limiting the spread of COVID-19, the Governor recently issued a Safe Schools for All Plan, which stated, “Resuming in-person instruction is critical for kids, families and communities throughout the state.” The plan cites the important role of in-person instruction in supporting not only the academic development of students but also most critically the mental health, wellness, and social emotional needs of students, especially those who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
- Additionally the Governor’s budget is attaching funding for schools, those who have yet to open, with opening and keeping schools open.
- President Elect Joe Biden and Dr. Anthony Fauci have also urgently called for schools to offer in-person instruction.
- In line with the state’s plan, President Elect Biden has vowed to “reopen the majority of schools within his first 100 days in office.”
- Dr. Fauci’s mantra for limiting the spread of COVID-19 has been “bars closed, schools open,” citing evidence that schools are not the source of spread.
- In addition, Dr. Robert Redfield, CDC Director says "The truth is, for kids K-12, one of the safest places they can be, from our perspective, is to remain in school, and it's really important that following the data, making sure we don't make emotional decisions about what to close and what not to close" - and continued "I'm here to say clearly the data strongly supports that K-12 schools - as well as institutes of higher learning - really are not where we're having our challenges."
Impacts in Irvine
- In Irvine alone, the police department has experienced a 20 percent increase in youth suicide and self-harm calls, along with a 15 percent increase in runaways, putting some of our youngest residents at risk for human trafficking.
- Additionally, domestic violence, drug and alcohol calls related to youths are also up from this time last year. While IUSD continues to provide comprehensive mental health and wellness services and has invested more than $15 million over the last five years in these services, the important safety net our schools and in-person instruction provide for students has never been more apparent.
- We know that this crisis has proven to be incredibly disruptive and challenging, requiring each of us to continually adapt to and reimagine countless aspects of our lives, but our kids need us now more than ever and our role as essential workers has never been more evident or imperative.
Facts and Data
- Since resuming in-person instruction on September 24, IUSD and the Orange County Health Care Agency have found no evidence of student-to-staff or student-to-student transmission, and only two confirmed cases of staff-to-staff transmission. In each of these cases, physical distancing practices were not followed.
- With approximately 23,000 students and more than 3,000 staff on campuses and other facilities, case rates remain extremely low and isolated. Our site rates have not come anywhere close to the state’s threshold for closing schools or other facilities.
- The Orange County Department of Education also recently stated, “Across all 27 public Orange County school districts, we’re seeing a low percentage of positive cases.”
- We join many other districts in Orange County in supporting in-person instruction for students and families.
- Tustin, Saddleback, Capistrano, Placentia-Yorba Linda, and Orange continue at all grade levels.
- Newport-Mesa, Laguna Beach, Los Alamitos and others continue to offer in-person instruction at elementary levels.
- The city of Irvine’s COVID-19 cases and positivity numbers remain among the lowest in the county.
Let’s Continue to Do Our Part
Health agencies and experts have established guidelines for schools to open safely and together we have been following those guidelines, which can and do make a difference according to mounting evidence here and around the world. It will continue to require a concerted effort on the part of students, families and staff to keep our schools safe and open. We deeply appreciate our partnership with the IUSD community and please know that our District is committed to carefully monitoring and evaluating this situation and work closely with the California Department of Public Health and the Orange County Health Care Agency.
In the spirit of continuous improvement, IUSD will continue to evaluate our mitigation strategies and protocols, while following all state and local guidelines. To read more about the $21 million IUSD has strategically invested in health and safety measures, including face coverings, physical distancing, use of outdoor and flexible learning spaces, smaller cohorts, enhanced ventilation systems, standalone air purification systems for each classroom and other workspaces, and disinfecting protocols, click here.