Ventura County has reached a COVID-19 case rate that allows all elementary schools to resume in-person instruction as early as today if they choose to do so and have taken required safety measures. At the same time, the County of Ventura will begin vaccinating teachers starting next Monday. “These two developments are encouraging steps in the effort to safely bring more students and teachers back to the classroom,” said Dr. Cesar Morales, Deputy Superintendent for the Ventura County Office of Education.
According to current state guidelines, elementary schools may reopen when a county’s adjusted COVID-19 case rate falls below 25 per 100,000 residents and stays there for five consecutive days. In Ventura County, that milestone was reached on Sunday, February 21. That means Ventura County schools that had not previously reopened now have the option of bringing students back to class.
Some school districts may determine it’s still too soon to reopen their elementary schools, particularly if they serve parts of Ventura County where the case rate remains above 25 per 100,000. “There are several ZIP codes, particularly in Santa Paula, Fillmore and the Oxnard Plain, where case rates are still worryingly high,” Dr. Morales said. “School districts in those areas will need to decide when it’s in the best interest of their particular communities to reopen their classrooms.”
Before they can reopen, schools must wait for seven days after their COVID-19 Safety Plans have been approved by Ventura County Public Health and the State Safe Schools for All team. Schools that do reopen will use hybrid schedules since social distancing requirements prevent them from bringing all students back at the same time. Schools will continue to offer distance learning as an option for families who prefer it. Under current State guidelines, middle and high schools that have not previously reopened will have to wait until Ventura County returns to the less restrictive red tier on the State’s coronavirus classification scale.
The County of Ventura has announced it will begin providing COVID-19 vaccinations to teachers on Monday, March 1. This follows a decision by California Governor Gavin Newsom to set aside ten percent of the state’s vaccines for school employees. Because of continued issues with vaccine supply, the number of vaccines initially available to school employees is expected to be limited. More information about educator vaccinations is expected from Ventura County Public Health this week. The County currently operates six vaccination sites, including a new one that opened last week at the Ventura County Office of Education’s conference center in Camarillo. Vaccinations are given by appointment only and eligible people can register at www.venturacountyrecovers.org/vaccine-information.