Ross Valley School District adopts stringent COVID-19 safety guidelines


Chloe Levenson

Sign reading “Face masks required prior to entry” pictured at the Brookside Elementary School Copy Room.

After a year and a half of complications due to COVID-19, the Ross Valley School District (RVSD) has finally started the school year fully in person again. Due to the COVID-19 vaccine not yet being approved for elementary-aged children, the RVSD has implemented a strict list of COVID-19 guidelines to keep students and staff safe. 

Judy Barry-Gougeon has been the principal of Brookside Elementary School for the past six years. Every week she attends a meeting where representatives from the Marin County Health and Human Services department address local COVID-19 updates and how they affect RVSD guidelines.

Although RVSD staff may adopt the safety measures that prevent the transmission of COVID-19, the guidelines that they work off of are communicated through Marin County Health and Human Services. These guidelines include the use of face coverings indoors and outdoors, frequent cleaning and disinfection, limitation of visitors, and intensive staff training about the importance of health and safety protocols. 

“All of our communication comes from [Marin County Health and Human Services] and they keep us updated about the latest [COVID-19] communications… based on data that they gather about what’s happening currently in the school setting and in Marin County,” Barry-Gougeon said.

As of Oct. 7, there have been no new COVID-19 cases among staff or students in all of the RVSD elementary schools. Despite this, if an RVSD staff member or student is infected with COVID-19, they must quarantine until they can provide a negative test result, and the people with whom they may come in contact must be notified and take precautions. These close contacts have to follow a modified quarantine, where the people can attend school but not after-school activities, as stated by the RVSD guidelines. 

“We have a number of protocols we follow [if someone gets COVID-19]… we have to interview the family about what happened and where it happened and all those details and then, we share those details with representatives from [Marin] County Health and they guide us towards what the next steps are,” Barry-Gougeon said.

COVID-19 vaccines are currently going through authorization trials and tests for children ages 5-12, and the American Academy of Pediatrics states that these vaccines are remarkably effective and safe.

Ashlyn Murphy, a 10-year-old fourth-grade student at Hidden Valley Elementary School, is looking forward to the availability of vaccines to her age group.

“I think [COVID-19] doesn’t make that much of a difference in school, except you can’t really interact with people, [so] I will get the vaccine,” Ashlyn said.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has caused stringent guidelines at RVSD elementary schools, the vaccine being available for children will lessen the severity of these guidelines in the future.