40 South Bay principals reportedly self-quarantining after colleague tests positive

In the South Bay, more than 40 school principals are self quarantining because they may have been exposed to the coronavirus, according to a report. 

The San Francisco Chronicle says the possible exposure occurred on June 19 at a reopening meeting, hosted by the Santa Clara Unified School District, where one person at that meeting tested positive a few days later.

"Unfortunately, one of the members of our leadership team tested positive for COVID in the days following Friday's meeting," said District Superintendent Stella Kemp. "Since then, we have taken the following steps: cleaned and sanitized the meeting location and all attendees were quarantined according to directions from the county health department." 

The school board now wants to know why the superintendent made the principals come to an in-person meeting. 

“Given the complexity required in the development of our reopening plan, some of our staff meetings are taking place in person,” Kemp told the newspaper. “Of course those meetings are being conducted under the strict guidelines provided to us by the Santa Clara County Public Health Department.”

Jennifer Dericco, a spokeswoman for the district, said the "report that 40 administrators have been quarantined is completely inaccurate." However, she did not elaborate on the alleged inaccuracies. 

The superintendent insisted the meeting was necessary, adding that everyone who attended was tested and as far as she knows no one else tested positive.

The county public health order does not give a recommendation on the number of people attending a meeting but does state, “Only those employees performing job duties that they cannot feasibly perform from home may come to a business’s facility to work.”

On Tuesday, health officials gave county schools a guide for reopening for in-person instruction in the fall but said they should be ready to resume instruction remotely if coronavirus conditions demand further shutdowns.

In an email, the Santa Clara County Public Health Department wrote that the health order currently in place allows local governments to conduct essential business in-person, and to decide for themselves what is essential.

"Our recommendation has always been that to the extent possible, meetings should not be in person and should happen virtually," the county said. "In this case, it is not clear why meeting in person was necessary. It is a lesson for other government agencies – even though they have the authority to hold an in-person meeting, it does not mean they should exercise the right to do so."

The Associated Press and KTVU's Elissa Harrington contributed to this report.