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Ventura County Steps Up Vaccination Tiers, Adding Educators, Food Services, And Emergency Services


Ventura County is stepping up its vaccination process, opening the door to the next tier of vaccinations.  Depending on the availability of appointments, essential workers in food and agriculture, education and childcare, and emergency services can get shots.  Ventura County CEO Mike Powers says they realized they had some open vaccination appointments, and decided to step up who could get vaccinated.

The newly added groups were supposed to be eligible for vaccinations starting March 1st.  Powers says the county’s goal is to have everyone in the education community from teachers to custodians vaccinated by the end of March, to help with school reopenings.

This news comes as the door has been reopened for school districts with approved safety plans to offer in-person learning in elementary schools.

Dr. Cesar Morales is Deputy Superintendent of the Ventura County Office of Education.  About a third of the county’s school districts already have elementary school campuses open, using a combination of in-person and remote teaching.  Last fall’s spike in numbers blocked more reopenings.

Now, with the COVID-19 case counts easing, elementary schools which have safety plans approved by the state can reopen in Ventura County, as well as in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties.

How safe is it? Ventura County Public Health Director Dr. Rigoberto Vargas says schools around the country which have followed safety protocols have done well in preventing major outbreaks.

Dr. Vargas says there have been some COVID-19 cases at open schools in the county, but outbreaks have been isolated, and small.

It’s possible some districts may not pursue elementary school reopening. In Ventura County, there are some districts which serve communities which still have high COVID-19 case numbers.

Morales says it may still be a while still before middle and high schools can reopen.  Because those grade levels have students going to different classes throughout the day, there is a much higher chance of exposure.

Santa Barbara County Public health officials say they are on the original schedule to start vaccinating educators, and other essential workers march 1st.

Meanwhile, state health officials and the California Interscholastic Federation, the body which oversees the state’s sports leagues, are working to see if they can work out safety criteria to get sports programs back up and running.

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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