As of Tuesday, September 29, Sacramento County made the descent from the most restrictive COVID-19 purple tier, into the slightly less restrictive red tier. This was a step in the safe direction, and the prospect of a sliver of a return to normalcy seemed to be becoming more and more attainable. As per the guidelines for each tier, a move into the red tier would mean that Sacramento County could open indoor gyms, restaurants, and places of worship at a maximum of 25% capacity. After two weeks of continuing to meet the criteria for the red tier, county health officers could make amendments to the health orders for schools.
October 13 was the magic date for school districts, and by then Sacramento was still passing with flying colors to meet the red tier requirements. After this, the San Juan Unified School District set the date for the possible return to in-person learning: January 5. Surveys were sent to families across the district in order to determine the best learning model for students, and on November 13 a model was selected. This model of hybrid learning would be set up for high schools and middle schools in a way that students who were not remaining at home full time would be split into two cohorts - A and B, allowing for only half of the student body population to be on campus at a time.
However, the threat of ever rising coronavirus cases loomed beneath the surface, especially after Halloween, as temperatures dropped and the holiday season commenced. Across the country, cases began to spike, with record breaking numbers of cases coming out each day. On November 4, the United States reached its first grim milestone in new cases - 107,883. Cases in California were also on a slow and steady rise, and Sacramento County was no exception to this predicament. On November 10, Sacramento County found itself back at the start, in the purple tier. On November 19, the California Department of Public Health decided to undertake a more aggressive strategy in response to rising cases, and issued a Limited Stay Home Order for counties in the most restrictive purple tier. Under this stay at home order, gatherings between separate households during the hours of 10 P.M. and 5 A.M. were prohibited.
Even though Sacramento County was once again in the most restrictive tier, all hope was not lost yet. This time, the magic date was December 16. Unfortunately, across the United States the Covid-19 situation was getting continually worse, with records for most deaths being shattered across the board.
On December 3, the San Juan Unified School District made the tough, but necessary decision to delay the return to in-person learning until conditions improved. When students returned to school after winter break on January 5, it would be in the same distance learning format as seen for the duration of the fall semester.
On the morning of Friday December 11, the Sacramento region was announced to have less than 15% ICU capacity. Sacramento was forced to adhere to the terms of the Regional Stay Home order guidelines (implemented on December 3) as a result of this predicament.
Shortly after this, San Juan released an update on what this would mean for the school district. Childcare and P-12 schools would be exempt from any further restrictions under the new order. With minimal staffing, school and district offices would remain open to the public until December 18. All athletic conditioning would be paused effective on Friday December 11.
On the district’s COVID-19 dashboard within the past week, it had been shown that a high number of COVID-19 cases seemed to be affecting students, staff, and families. As of the evening of Wednesday December 9, 27 students had tested positive, 32 members of the staff tested positive, and more than 130 students and 50 staff members had reported being exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19, requiring them to quarantine.
On the Friday December 11, when the Regional Stay Home order was first implemented, it also happened to be a day of many more grim milestones. As a whole, the United States recorded 280,514 new cases, a new and grave record. The state of California recorded 37,124 new cases, which was also another record shattered for the state.