SANTA CLARA (KPIX) – Students are getting a preview of what back-to-school will be like next Fall during the coronavirus pandemic, thanks to newly-released guidelines from health officials in Santa Clara County.

Students and staff will be required to wear face masks and social distance when schools are allowed to reopen this fall, county leaders said Tuesday.

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“What we’re learning so far with COVID is that young children aren’t the engines of transmissions as they are with the flu,” said Santa Clara County Public Health Officer Sara Cody.

The new guidelines, released for the 31 school districts in the county, include stable classrooms and seating arrangements, and social distancing of desks. Extracurricular activities will only be allowed if social distancing and mask-wearing are possible and adults must wear face coverings at all times on campus.

Students will also be required to wear face masks during classes. Elementary school students, however, will be allowed to take off masks in the classroom.

“Some classrooms will need to remove furniture, and desks will be in rows facing the front, so they’re not facing each other,” said Santa Clara County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Mary Ann Dewan.

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Shawn Green, whose 6-year-old daughter will enter first grade this upcoming school year, said he is concerned about the evolving recommendations by health experts and government agencies.

“Right now, I would probably say ‘no’ based on what we’re seeing in the rate,” Green said. “There’s just not enough information, you’re going in there blindly, kind of almost seems like you’re a guinea pig.”

Green is not only a parent, he’s a teacher in San Jose, as well. He’ll be ready to head back into the classroom if that’s what his district decides, but he said he’ll wait and see how the next few weeks unfold before he’s ready to send his daughter back to school.

“A lot depends on where we are in a month or two,” said Green.

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Depending on the pandemic before the start of the school year, schools may continue distance-learning or a hybrid schedule.
Guidelines for school sports have yet to be released.