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Update to the Community - Oct. 2

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This week, Sacramento County’s risk level was reduced to red or “substantial” on the state’s COVID-19 tracking system. This is an important step forward for our schools and community. This update provides students, families, staff and community members with the latest efforts in San Juan Unified to be ready for a return to in-person learning.

This update is another lengthy item. Here are the highlights: 

 What does it mean to be ‘red’? 

Under California’s system for monitoring COVID-19, counties are assigned a risk level based on their number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents and the percentage of tests that yield positive results. This week, Sacramento county has moved from the highest risk level, purple or widespread, to the red or substantial level. With a red designation, counties can move to restore some services, such as indoor dining and museums, with restrictions and at reduced capacities. 

If Sacramento County is able to maintain the red designation through Oct. 13, schools would officially be allowed under state rules to return to in-person learning, if appropriate safety precautions are able to be put in place and physical distancing is able to be observed. Once the county reaches this milestone, county health officials will need to rescind or modify prior local health orders that also keep schools closed. Before finalizing plans for a return to in-person learning, district staff are closely monitoring developments and awaiting revised guidance from county health officials if and when they rescind or revise health orders that currently keep schools in distance learning formats. More will be known once the county has been in the red risk tier for two weeks.

You can read more about the state risk tiers in the district update from Sept. 18 or on the state website at

Where does Sacramento County stand?  

Sacramento County has launched a campaign to encourage everyone to help reach the orange or moderate risk tier. To get there, the number of new cases per 100,000 residents must continue to decline. As of this week, it sits at 6.8 cases per 100,000 residents which is just .2 cases away from being pushed back into the more restrictive purple tier. The other key metric, the percentage of COVID-19 tests coming back positive, continues in a positive direction for the county standing this week at 4.6 percent, well under the eight percent threshold for returning to purple and low enough to help push into the less restrictive orange tier. 

Be sure to check to see how you and your family can help Sacramento County continue our progress and reach the orange tier by the end of October!

  New Cases
(daily new cases per 100k)
Positive Tests
Return to purple / widespread tier More than 7 More than 8 %
Sacramento County Current (red) 6.8 4.6 %
Needed to reach orange 1 - 3.9 2 - 4.9 %

With the reduction in the number of cases, the ability for county health officials to adequately implement contact tracing and monitoring to help prevent additional cases increases greatly. Health officials have shared that they are confident with the reduced number of cases being seen in the red tier that contact tracing efforts will be robust and help support efforts to return to in-person learning. Additionally, COVID-19 testing capacity has been freed up both through county health sources as well as private providers.

Making San Juan Unified’s plan to return the best  

In July, San Juan Unified adopted a range of instructional models to be offered as health conditions changed. Under that plan, a return to in-person learning would see students placed into two groups. One group would attend classes on campus on Monday and Tuesday. The second group would attend on Thursday and Friday. Two groups are necessary to achieve the class sizes that would be required to implement physical distancing requirements. On Wednesday, all students would engage in distance learning to provide an opportunity for deep cleaning of facilities between groups. 

As district leaders await additional guidance from a revised or rescinded local health order, they are also looking to see the lessons learned and unanticipated roadblocks encountered at schools and districts already allowed to resume in-person instruction in other areas. Many schools adopted plans similar to San Juan’s plan from July. In implementing their returns with this model, other schools have identified two crucial concerns that San Juan Unified staff are working to address with employee groups and others.

First, other schools have found that as many as 30 percent of students choose to not return to in-person learning and that not all staff can return to an in-person format for health concerns or because they must care for others. This massive change in student enrollments and available staff could result in the need to move students to new classes with new teachers and peers, reassign staff to new grade levels or school sites, create grade level combination classes on a broad basis, eliminate some course offerings or completely reschedule students at the middle and high school levels. 

Secondly, other schools have found that the in-person model as currently designed could yield less live instructional time with teachers than the current distance learning model. Given the need to support learning and avoid learning loss every instructional minute will be essential. 

Working with teachers and others, district staff believe there may be ways to avoid many of these impacts while continuing to offer families their choice of in-person, distance learning or homeschool/independent study learning models. Developing these solutions may take some additional time as details are finalized, equipment and structures are put in place and formal agreements are reached with employee groups. 

Timeline & Next Steps

No official date has been set for returning to in-person learning as district staff await final health guidance expected around Oct. 13 and continue to improve existing return plans. 

Also on Oct. 13, the San Juan Unified Board of Education will be briefed by district staff on the current status of plans to return to modified in-person learning. You can learn more about the board meeting and how to observe or attend by visiting

As shared in a Sept. 18 update, families will also be surveyed to determine their preferences for returning to in-person learning or remaining in a distance learning format. In asking for feedback and input from parent groups on the survey effort, it was shared that it is important to provide a picture of what modified in-person learning may look like on campuses. District staff expect to have the survey distributed in the next two weeks. Families will receive one survey invitation per student and be asked to complete a survey for each student. Only families with current email addresses on file will receive an invitation to complete a survey. Parents and guardians who are unsure if their email addresses are current can update it in Parent Portal or visit to add additional email addresses. 

Personal Protective Equipment & Site Preparations 

As shared in July, the district has put in place a comprehensive safety program to protect students and staff while minimizing the possible spread of COVID-19. This has included modifying ventilation systems, the purchase of pallet after pallet of face coverings, installation of hand sanitizers in each classroom, placement of plexiglass barriers, additional signage on campuses to encourage physical distancing and more. 

You can view an update presentation given by the district’s Maintenance and Operations staff at a recent parent meeting for all the details. 

TK-2 touch Chromebooks delayed

In July, district technology and instruction staff announced that Chromebook devices with a touch interface had been ordered for students in TK, first and second grades. Devices were scheduled to arrive by late September, however, the district has been alerted that due to a component shortage with the manufacturer, the or der will be delayed. Until the devices arrive, students in the impacted grades will be allowed to keep their already assigned keyboard input Chromebook devices. Any student in need of a device or support with their current device should reach out to their school office or the district’s technology support line at (916) 971-7195 option 2.

Due to the size of the district’s order, the vendor has prioritized the delivery of the TK-2 units as soon as the required components become available.

Athletic Training

As of Sept. 28, schools are allowed to resume athletic training on campuses with restrictions in place that include physical distancing, face coverings when appropriate, and keeping activities outdoors. No contact or sharing of items is allowed and each team must submit a safety plan for review by school and district staff prior to being allowed to resume training. 

Sacramento County moving to red does open additional possibilities for allowing additional athletic training activities including the use of gyms and weight rooms with restrictions. San Juan Unified will consider allowing those activities in the coming weeks.