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Ventura County Offering Elementary Schools Closed By Coronavirus Opportunity To Reopen


Ventura County is joining Santa Barbara County in opening the doors for some schools to resume in-person classes.

Ventura County Public Health Officer Robert Levin says getting waivers won’t be easy for school districts.  They will have to meet a lot of criteria to ensure the safety of students, faculty, and staff.  He says while there are lots of concerns, the benefits of allowing reopening outweigh the risks.

Dr. Levin he admits reopening isn’t an easy question, especially for parents.

The County Public Health officer says he knows that despite the best efforts of educators, remote learning doesn’t meet all the needs of young students.  He says that’s why getting kids back into classrooms is so important.

Dr. Levin says parents, teachers, and staff should expect to find small class sizes, lots of social distancing, and mandatory masks for staff, and older kids.

Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties are using a waiver process set up by the state specifically for schools.  The counties still fail to meet the full criteria for full reopenings.  But, they check enough of the boxes for school district meeting waiver requirements to open the doors to classrooms.

Ventura County could be nearing the point where it can do more reopenings, meeting five of six state requirements.  It still is reporting too many new daily cases to meet state guideposts, but the number has been dropping.

The school reopening waiver process could take a few weeks.  First, a district has to decide it wants to do that, which means meeting with parents, staff and faculty.  Then, even though there is a template, schools have to come up with a safety plan, get it approved, and put the pieces in place to implement it. 

Santa Barbara county public health officials announced on Tuesday that they will also be accepting waiver applications.

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.