VENTURA (CBSLA) — The Ventura County Department of Public Health Wednesday announced it would start allowing public and private elementary schools to submit waiver applications that would allow in-person instruction at campuses serving students in transitional kindergarten through sixth grade.
“This was a difficult decision,” Dr. Robert Levin, county public health officer, said. “I recognize there are reasons not to open our Health Department to requests for waivers, but we got to the point where I feel the benefits outweigh the risks.”
In counties that are on the state’s COVID-19 monitoring list, including Ventura, elementary schools are not allowed to reopen for in-person instruction unless a waiver is granted by local and state health officials.
In accordance with state guidelines, waivers may be granted when requested by a local superintendent — or equivalent — in consultation with labor, parent and community organizations.
“Research shows that our youngest children derive significant benefits from in-person interaction with their teachers and with one another in the school setting,” Levin said. “We will ensure that schools have a solid plan in place to protect their students and staff and they will work with the health department when there is a case to prevent further spread of the virus.”
Levin also said that just because a waiver is submitted, does not mean that it will automatically be granted.
“It will not be a done deal,” he said. “Schools will have to meet rigorous standards of safety and responsibility.”
More information about the waiver process can be found on the county’s website.
Also on Wednesday, the county reported 54 newly confirmed coronavirus cases and one additional fatality, bringing countywide totals to 9,394 cases and 98 deaths. There were also a reported 7,383 recoveries and 1,913 active cases.
Health officials reported there were 74 confirmed coronavirus patients being treated in local hospitals with 30 in intensive care units. A total of 138,640 people have been tested in the county.