CALIFORNIA — The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) released a guidance on Tuesday, August 25, with rules for the supervision of groups of children and youth who gather for educational purposes.

According to health officials, the guideline intends to prevent the spread of COVID-19 across students and kids in small learning environments such as learning “distance learning hubs,”  recreation programs and other childcare settings. It stipulates that there can be no more than 14 children and two supervisors in each group or cohort and that all of them must be wearing face coverings as mandated by the CDPH Schools Guidance. Each group should also distance from other cohorts in activities that they do and they should not be in the same place as others at the same time. Officials added that within each group, physical distancing “should be balanced with developmental and socio‐emotional needs of the age group.”

The rules issued by the CDPH also specify that adults can only be assigned to one cohort and that children should not be changing groups either. Other rule says that supervisors can only meet with other staff members remotely or in outdoor settings in which they can distance from each other. 

According to health officials, following these rules will limit the transmission of the virus and will make contact tracing easier for educational facilities in case someone tests positive for COVID-19. 

“The precautions and considerations detailed in this guidance will ensure that when small cohorts of children and youth, and those that care for them, come together they can do so with the appropriate health and safety measures in place. It’s important that appropriate steps are taken to reduce virus transmission and the risk of infection,” said Acting State Public Health Officer Dr. Erica Pan in a public statement.

The guidance clarifies that these rules apply to small groups supervised by local educational agencies, non-profits, public and private schools, child care providers, recreation programs, before and after school programs, youth groups and day camps. They also state that previously released guidelines for educational settings continue to apply.

According to EdSource, the California Teachers Association reacted to the guidance and said that the changing rules make it hard for educators and parents to plan the instruction for the children.

“Districts should stay focused on their current opening plans and on robust distance learning programs for this semester. The guidance raises questions around mixing of grades in cohorts and should include testing and contact tracing plans,” Claudia Briggs, CTA’s communications assistant manager, said in a statement to Ed Source.

In the public statement the state also released a set of FAQ related to the applications of this guidance.