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Santa Barbara County Opens Door For Some Elementary Schools To Offer In-Person Classes

Santa Barbara County Public Health officials say they’ve finally sorted out issues with the state coronavirus data tracking system.  The numbers show the situation has been improving in the county, with drops in the overall number of new diagnosed cases, as well as the percentage of positive cases.

The improvements aren’t enough to get the county off the state’s monitoring list for more general reopenings.  But now some public and private primary schools can petition to offer in-person classes.

Santa Barbara County Public Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg says the portal for schools to apply for waivers to reopen will go online Friday.

If schools decide to try to reopen, it will take them several weeks.  They have to take a number of steps before the County Health Department will consider granting a waiver.  District officials need to meet with parents, faculty and staff, and develop a comprehensive reopening plan. 

The move comes amid some progress in the battle against coronavirus in the county.  There have been significant drops in new cases in Santa Maria, Lompoc, and Santa Barbara.  But, Goleta and Isla Vista have had recent increases.

Santa Barbara County Public Health Director Van Do-Reynoso says 66% of the newly diagnosed cases during the last few weeks have been in the 18-49 age bracket.

The county is at or over two key statistics to get off the state monitoring list.  The state expects a new case rate of 25 people or less per 100,000.  While the county has improved, it’s at 159 per 100,000, or more than five times the allowable number.  And, the seven day average for positive cases is 8%, while the state requires counties to be below that number.

Ansorg says as things stand, the numbers aren’t there for further reopenings right now.  But, there is hope, with state health officials hinting they may be allowing more sectors of the economy to reopen soon.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral. 
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