After two consecutive weeks of positive progress on COVID-19, San Luis Obispo County is now eligible to reopen its schools for in-person learning—if schools want to—according to California’s latest coronavirus update.
The Oct. 6 update shows that SLO County had met state benchmarks for the red tier of its reopening plan for a second straight week
—a juncture at which local school sites may reopen with sufficient plans and restrictions in place.
FILE PHOTO BY JAYSON MELLOM
STEADY PROGRESS SLO County Public Health Officer Penny Borenstein said county schools may reopen for in-person learning as the county entered its third week under the red tier of the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy.
“Local schools are not required to reopen for in-person instruction,” SLO County Public Health Officer Penny Borenstein said in an Oct. 6 press release, “but they may choose to reopen if they implement the state’s COVID-19 guidance for schools and school-based programs.”
Despite the green light, it’s unclear how many schools will pursue reopening in 2020 as, according to the county’s press release, “many local districts decided to stay closed through the end of the calendar year.”
“Some may reopen with approved reopening plans by County Public Health officials,” the press release stated.
Since the start of the school year, about a dozen local private elementary schools have obtained waivers to reopen their campuses. Some public districts, like the Paso Robles Joint Unified School District, have reopened school sites to serve a limited number of students with special needs.
Both Paso Robles and the Atascadero Unified School District also recently applied for elementary school waivers and have consistently expressed interest in moving forward with reopenings as they’re allowed.
“Paso Robles Joint Unified School District remains dedicated to the safe return of both students and staff to our campuses. We believe that in-person instruction for all students is necessary and vital for the success of the district,” the district said in a Sept. 17 memo on its reopening plans.
Any school that wishes to reopen must submit a plan to SLO County Public Health that adheres to state guidelines
. In its press release, Public Health advised districts to adopt COVID-19 testing for staff and teachers.
Between Sept. 13 and 26, COVID-19 metrics in SLO County remained steady, with data showing a 1.9 percent positivity rate and a 5.1 case rate per 100,000 residents.
On Oct. 6, SLO County reported 13 new cases of COVID-19 and had no patients in intensive care units.
“Because we have kept our COVID-19 transmission relatively stable, we have been consistently in the red tier for two weeks now,” Borenstein said. ∆