UPDATE - Monday evening, the Orcutt Union School District Board of Trustees approved a return to in-person learning for students in grades TK-6 for all schools in the district.
ORIGINAL STORY - With a drop in the number of COVID-19 cases, Santa Barbara County is on track to re-open elementary schools.
School districts all across Santa Barbara County are preparing and waiting for the green light from the county that will allow them to make a decision. For some school districts like Orcutt Union, their board of trustees is meeting Monday night to discuss whether to open once they get the go-ahead.
"They have the opportunity to provide direction tonight so we should know tonight whether they want to move forward under the purple guidance of 25 or less case count per 100,000 or stay with the red tier,” said Holly Edds, Orcutt Union School District Superintendent.
Safety plans have been approved for seven schools in Santa Barbara County:
- Santa Barbara Union School District
- Orcutt Union School District
- Lompoc Unified
- Buellton Unified
- Vista del Mar
- Goleta Union School District
- Santa Barbara Charter School
At Lompoc Unified, elementary schools plan to reopen classrooms as early as the first weeks of March as they continue to get final input from parents on what in-person model they prefer.
"Class assignment, teachers assignment, cohort assignment, have all that ready at the beginning of March with a re-opening of kids starting to come in with a phased-in approach starting March 8,” Bree Valla, Lompoc Unified Deputy Superintendent said.
County public health officials add the possibility of re-opening looks promising.
"I am pretty optimistic quite honestly. I am really thrilled that those kids could go back to school,” said Santa Barbara County Public Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg.
For school districts like Santa Maria Bonita, the decision on whether to open or continue with distance learning is still unknown.
Both Lompoc Unified and Orcutt Union school districts are offering options for students who want to stick with distance learning.
“We wanted to make sure that was an option available for our families and we have students who are actually thriving through distance learning that may choose to stay in that model as well,” Edds said.
According to Santa Barbara County health officials, if the county gets good news from the state, school districts will have a three-week window to decide whether to move forward with the re-opening plans.
According to the county, the state will let them know if they hit the marker needed today and schools will be informed Monday night.