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Changes in CA public health guidelines may allow students to return to classrooms sooner

covid classroom.PNG
Posted at 8:39 PM, Feb 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-09 02:15:24-05

The rules for allowing students to return to the classroom are changing once again and now some local parents hope their children will be back in the classroom before this school year ends.

A waiver was required in order for elementary schools to reopen, but that system has now been replaced. School districts can now use COVID-19 case rates and the color-coded tier system.

Kelly Lighty's family is one of many local families ready to return to the classroom.

"It's heartbreaking in a way to just see there's no peer interaction - they're just on screens all the time," Lighty said.

Lighty says she created a pod for her children and other students in their neighborhood, but it's not the same.

New guidance may allow Central Coast students to return to the classroom: counties COVID-19 case rates have to be below 25 cases per 100,000 people for five days. This is a milestone San Luis Obispo County has reached.

"When the CDC and CDPH came out with that I was like: "Okay - we're going [back]!," Lighty said.

Many school districts are still working on a plan now that they no longer will need a waiver to reopen.

In an email that went out to parents in the Lucia Mar School District last week, the superintendent says:

The new guidance and our current county adjusted case numbers now offer us the opportunity to reopen our elementary schools for in-person instruction more quickly than we had originally planned... We are encouraged by the successful reopening of elementary schools in north county, and we are confident that our safety protocols and plans will help to protect our students and staff, while bringing our youngest learners back to school in person, which is where we know they need to be.

The county's superintendent, James Brescia, says the public health department is working with all of the school districts in the county to ensure the schools operate following state and local guidelines.

"Reopening for in person instruction requires time and resources to ensure safety. So changes at school will include: smaller class sizes, increased cleaning and disinfection, hand washing stations, ventilation upgrades, student mask wearing, and other safety mitigations," said Brescia.

This reopening based on case count is only for students in grades K-6 and it will require a school board's approval before moving forward. Students in 7th-12th grades will have to wait until the county returns to the red tier.

Local school districts have meetings coming up:

  • Atascadero Unified School District: Tuesday, February 16
  • San Luis Coastal Unified School District: Tuesday, February 16
  • Lucia Mar Unified School District: Tuesday, February 16
  • Paso Robles Joint Unified School District: Tuesday, February 9
  • Templeton Unified School District: Thursday, February 11
  • Coast Unified School District: Thursday, February 11
  • Cayucos Elementary School District: Wednesday, February 10
  • Pleasant Valley School: Wednesday, February 10
  • San Miguel Joint Union: Thursday, February 11
  • Shandon Joint Unified School District: Tuesday, February 9