By Shawn Chitnis

MILPITAS (KPIX) — The Milpitas Unified School District will remain open Monday for in-person learning after initially planning on a weeklong quarantine.

After its initial Friday announcement of a quarantine, district officials learned they does not have the authority to make that decision. It is one of many school districts around the Bay Area navigating the spread of COVID-19 from the Omicron variant while trying to keep students in school.

“After consulting with the Santa Clara County Office of Education, we learned
that we are not able to offer a ‘district-wide quarantine- as shared in our Friday communication. Community quarantines may be declared by County Public Health,” the MUSD superintendent’s office said in a message posted on the district website.

The Santa Clara County Office of Education and Santa Clara County Health issued a joint video statement on Friday related to the issue. Leaders said they want to encourage the same mitigation steps families have followed since the beginning of the pandemic in order to keep students in school.

“It remains critically important to use all of the important layers of protections, masking, double masking, vaccinations, booster shots for those eligible, testing, and remaining home for those that are sick,” Dr. Mary Ann Dewan with the Office of Education said in the video.

The county emphasized that with multiple school years to look back on already fighting the virus, they realize now how much more important it is to keep students in the classroom.

“We need to find ways to coexist and to live with COVID, we have two years under our belt and we’ve learned a lot,” said Santa Clara County Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody. “We’ve learned that in person learning is what they need and remote learning doesn’t support their mental health, emotional health, and academic wellbeing.”

Reasons highlighted in Santa Clara that have motivated other school districts across the Bay Area to avoid a switch to remote learning. San Francisco Unified School District says it handed out more than 50,000 COVID-19 tests in one week and will continue to distribute more in the weeks ahead.

“We are committed to keeping schools open as long as we can safely do so and the Department of Public Health said with our safety protocols in place, schools remain low risk settings,” SFUSD spokesperson Laura Dudnick said.

West Contra Costa Unified School District was able to close school for two days beginning on Friday by moving around non-student days in the academic calendar and remain closed on Monday. Testing at district sites will be available again on Monday before schools reopen on Tuesday.

WCCUSD hopes this long weekend will not only give them time to deep clean their schools, but also let students and staff recover from any COVID infections.

MUSD said families still concerned about sending students to school in their district now that there will not be a quarantine can pursue independent study for their children.

Shawn Chitnis